ZEELAND, Mich. (WOOD) - A letter written by Zeeland Public School Superintendent Dave Barry, which refers to the joys of watching his employees work, was admittedly plagiarized from an online education blogger.
Barry copied 396 words of the 437 in the blog verbatim into an employee newsletter with his name signed at the bottom.
-- Read a copy of the newsletter (jpg) --
Lines like "Even the least ambitious will get up early, stay late if needed and juggle long to-do lists. Typical days include hundreds of interactions, many interruptions, and multiple examples of Murphy's Law," were directly copied from Mike Rutherford's blog.
Other lines were altered from admiring school administrators to admiring school employees.
When 24 Hour News 8 called to confront Barry, he admitted he didn't cite the source of the letter, calling it "a mistake."
When asked for clarification, Barry said "My mistake was not clarifying where I received the information from."
Though a news crew was waiting outside of his office, Barry refused to comment on camera. Instead, he released two responses via email. One was addressed to his staff and the other to the blogger.
Part of the letter to the staff reads:
"Although my intentions were good, I failed to appropriately attribute the work and ideas expressed by Mr. Rutherford. I apologize for this mistake and hope this does not detract from the heart of the message focusing on the excellent work our staff does each day for children."
Part of his letter to the blogger read:
"In my enthusiasm to praise the work of our school staff, I used your text and ideas without attributing you as the source in our May 2012 staff newsletter. Please accept my apologies."
Rutherford told 24 Hour News 8 in an email that educators are encouraged to use his material as long as they cite him.
Zeeland students are subject to failing a class and possibly being dropped from the class for the semester when they plagiarize.
The education developers blog post -- entitled "I hope you dance" -- appears to be written in April. The superintendent's newsletter is dated May 2012.
Tuesday, the head of the Zeeland school board released a statement about the incident:
"Superintendent Barry has made the Board aware of issues involving plagiarism in a recently published employee publication. The Zeeland Board of Education is taking this matter very seriously and we intend to review the incident thoroughly. We plan to conclude our review of the situation in a timely manner."
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