Principal of Washburn High School reassigned after protests - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Principal of Washburn High School reassigned after student sit-ins

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The principal of a Minneapolis high school that has seen its share of controversy this year is no longer on the job after a series of student walk-outs and sit-ins.

The Minneapolis Public School District confirms Carol Markham-Cousins is the focus of an internal investigation, but they declined to specify what for.

Frankly, it could be a lot of things. Markham-Cousins has had a rough few months at the school. While many parents still seemed supportive, it appears she lost the student body.

From all accounts, Markham-Cousins was a divisive figure at Washburn High School -- both loved and loathed. The trouble began in January after four students dangled a dark-skinned baby doll from a stairwell. Next, the popular athletic director Dan Pratt was put under investigation after reportedly clashing with the principal over the purchase of a new scoreboard.

On Monday, 200 students led a massive walk-out in support of Pratt -- and they weren't allowed back in school afterward. On Wednesday, an equally impressive sit-in took place right in front of Markham-Cousins' office. By Thursday morning, she was gone.

Star athlete Jamison Whiting helped organize the protests, and he told FOX 9 News Markham-Cousins actually threatened him.

"I was told if I went through with these meetings, I could be expelled and kicked off the track team," Whiting said.

With only six weeks of school left, the district wasted no time. In a statement to the Southwest Journal -- in which principal was actually misspelled for its homonym "principle," Markham-Cousins said she was given three choices:

- Resign
- Take a leave of absence
- Accept a reassignment

She chose the latter.

Yet, lost in the drama is the fact that in six years, Markham-Cousins turned around a high school that was academically troubled, and many had hoped better times were ahead.

"I think this is going to set us back," admitted Stan Alleyne. "She was trying to do the best. This is going to send us back to the beginning."

In the end, Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson made the decision to replace Markham-Cousins, but she doesn't have a new assignment just yet. For now, former Southwest High School Principal Robert McCauley will run Washburn until an interim principal is selected to finish out the school year.

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