Mpls. Washburn Principal's Firing Sent Back for More Fact Finding

Minnesota case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: teacher tenure.

Patrick Exner v. Minneapolis Public Schools, Special School District No. 1. MN teacher tenure

On July 31, 2013, Patrick Exner signed a contract that offered him the position of principal of Minneapolis Washburn High School. The contract stated that it was subject to final approval by the School Board.

Before the Board's secretary had signed the contract, board members received an anonymous e-mail stating that Exner had engaged in misconduct and dishonesty in connection with proctoring of exams at his previous employment, and that he had been placed on leave. It was also suggested that he had misrepresented his job title at the previous employer. The board placed Exner on paid administrative leave while it investigated.

In September, the board notified that Exner was being released and that his employment as principal would be terminated. Exner then sought review by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The court first held that when a school board terminates a teacher's employment in accordance with the Teacher Tenure Act, Minn. Stat. 122A.41, the board waives an argument that the teacher was discharged because he did not have a valid employment contract.

Under the tenure act, the Court of Appeals held that the board had made insufficient factual findings to determine the case. Therefore, it remanded the case to the school board for additional findings, to be based upon the evidence before it when it made the termination decision.

No. A13-2030 (Minn. Ct. App. July 14, 2014)

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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