On Thursday, the Star Tribune reported that they finally received a statement from former Washburn High School Principal Patrick Exner. “The allegation that I changed students’ answers on state assessment tests is absolutely false,” states Exner in a signed letter directed to the editorial section of the Strib. The letter lists Exner’s position as “Former Principal Washburn High School” and directs the media to contact Jody Hinkle if they have any other questions.
Hinkle graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park and has a degree in communications management & journalism. She began her communications career as an intern for Best Buy. She has worked for Toro, International Decision Systems, and MoneyGram International. Her peers speak very highly of her vast experience and expertise within communications. It’s a good thing that Exner hired her because he needs all the help that he can get.
Exner continues in the letter by stating that he spent three years at Ubah Medical Academy as an ‘associate director’. The functional title for this position, says Exner, is ‘academic director’. He continues by writing that the position required for him to evaluate other Ubah staff members and report his findings to Ubah Director Musa Farah. Exner states that the decisions that he had made “…were not popular…” amongst his colleagues. Is he trying to say that the anonymous email that was sent to the Minneapolis School Board was from a disgruntled colleague who wanted pay back for a bad evaluation that they received from Exner?
…it was my responsibility along with the director [Musa Farah] to evaluate staff and academics and make many decisions, often difficult ones, which involved personnel. Some of these decisions were not popular, but a necessity for the organization to move forward,” writes Exner.
The Strib says that Exner’s statements contradict the statements of the eyewitness that saw Exner change the GRAD test scores. The witness is a Ubah staff member, but did speak to the Strib on Thursday, with an agreement of anonymity. The witness stated that they watched Exner change the scores in the Ubah media center after the students were finished with the state exams. The witness said that they were standing about 5 to 6 feet away from Exner.
The Strib has a copy of the email which has a clear explanation of what exactly took place. “The teacher witnessed that as students finished answering the questions on their Minnesota GRAD exam, Patrick Exner had them stop before submitting the exam, step aside, and allow him to take their place at the testing computer and spend an extended period of time reviewing their answers,” stated the anonymous email.
Minneapolis School Board Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson has also not released a statement concerning this matter. It will be interesting to see what her reaction is and if Hinkle’s letter has made a friend a foe.