New Washburn principal named

TANGLETOWN — Former Minneapolis Public Schools teacher and administrator Rhonda Dean will return July 1 as principal of Washburn High School, the district announced May 2.

Dean left the district in 1997 and most recently spent six years as principal of Andover High School in Andover. Prior to that, she was assistant principal at Wayzata High School in Plymouth for 11 years.

The announcement of Dean’s selection ends a prolonged search for a new Washburn principal.

Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson made the controversial decision to remove former principal Carol Markham-Cousins in April 2013. Markham-Cousins was regarded by many as the force behind a positive turnaround of Washburn, but her tenure was also marked by divisions over her “honors for all” educational philosophy, which some said short-changed high-achieving students.

Her ouster followed a series of student protests sparked by an investigation of the school’s former athletic director, Dan Pratt, who subsequently left the district. Markham-Cousins later accepted the principal position at Stadium View School located inside the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center.

Just before the start of the current school year, the district picked Patrick Exner, a charter school academic director, for the open principal position. But Exner was quickly let go when allegations that he’d helped students cheat on standardized tests circulated in an anonymous email sent to reporters and School Board members.

The district then named Linda Conley, the assistant principal under Markham-Cousins, Washburn’s interim principal while it conducted a national candidate search. The district’s selection of Dean in May put it about a month behind the timeline Superintendent Johnson set last year after re-starting the search.

Dean first joined the district in 1991 as a math teacher at the now-closed Benjamin Banneker Middle School. She was later an administrator at Banneker and then at South High School.

WMEP English instructor is Teacher of the Year

Thomas Rademacher, a high school English teacher at FAIR School Downtown, was named 2014 Minnesota Teacher of the Year in May.

Rademacher was one of 10 finalists in the competition, which marked its 50th year in 2014. A field of 128 candidates from across the state was announced in January.

FAIR School Downtown is part of the West Metro Education Program, an 11-member integration school district whose participants include Minneapolis Public Schools. The K–12 Fair School has campuses in Crystal and downtown Minneapolis, and Rademacher has taught at one or the other since 2006.

The Minnesota Teacher of the Year is organized by Education Minnesota, the statewide educators union. This year, FAIR choir instructor Gretchen Baglyos Reed was also named among the 10 finalists.

DFL endorses five for School Board

Five candidates won endorsements for this fall’s five open seats on the School Board at the April 26 Minneapolis DFL city convention, including both of two incumbents running for re-election.

Those incumbents are board Treasurer Rebecca Gagnon, who serves at-large, and Vice Chair Jenny Arneson, who represents Northeast’s District 1 on the School Board. Both are seeking a second term on the nine-member board.

Also endorsed were Siad Ali in District 3, Nelson Inz in District 5 and Iris Altamirano for the second open at-large seat.

Ali works on U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s staff in the areas of immigration casework and constituent outreach. Inz is a social studies teacher at Great River School, a Montessori program in St. Paul. Altamirano is the former political director for Service Employees International Union Local 26, and she also serves in a volunteer position on the Minneapolis Commission on Civil Rights.

They are vying to replace two first-term incumbents who chose not to run for re-election, Richard Mammen (at-large) and Alberto Monserrate (District 5). The other open seat is Mohamud Noor’s in District 3. Appointed to serve-out the term of the late Hussein Samatar, Noor is now challenging Rep. Phyllis Kahn to represent District 60B in the state House.