Saddened by Markham-Cousins’ departure from Washburn

The “reassignment” of Ms. Markham-Cousins was a complete surprise to me when it was announced.  Despite the claim by some people who spoke “on behalf of the parents,” many of us supported, and continue to support, Ms. Markham-Cousins.  She was skewered in the press and on social media, not to mention had her reputation dragged through the mud by the very district administration who hired her to turn Washburn around and bring a full set of opportunities for academics, the arts, and, yes, athletics to a school that at one time was NOT a choice many families, including mine, considered an option because of the lack of leadership and vision. 

The agenda of some parents seemed to be to oust the principal and they created a hysteria that was irresponsible, and extremely unprofessional.  Ms. Markham-Cousins lost more than her position at a school where she poured her heart and soul into seeking the best for ALL students, not just a privileged few, in our community.  I know the story of her grandmother not having the opportunity to attend school because of her culture, where women were not allowed to attend school, but her grandmother instilled the value of education in Ms. Markham-Cousins and this inspires her career in education.

Where was the district’s central administration when people objected to their unpopular decisions.  Ms. Markham-Cousins took the heat and, rather than support their principal, the district slammed the door on her due to “too much distraction” and backlash. The ineptness lies much higher up on the leadership chain. 

Ms. Markham-Cousins worked tirelessly in the halls of Washburn High School, with hardworking teachers and staff, dedicating herself to ensure all children are given opportunities they deserve.  Public education is for everyone and the schools must meet the needs of all students, not just the privileged.  Shame on those who piled on the hurt and hysteria to oust a remarkable, dedicated educator and advocate for all students!  Sadness and anger barely describe the feelings of many Washburn parents. 

Sharon Lapensky