After one of its trustees bitterly apologized for committing plagiarism, the Northern Humboldt Union High School District board released a statement today, promising to inform future trustees that plagiarism is wrong.
If you've somehow missed the hubbub
to this point, here's a brief recap: During a speech at Arcata High School's June 13 commencement ceremony, local construction magnate/school board trustee Dan Johnson was caught
cribbing a well-known graduation address by Wellesley High School English teacher David McCullough, Jr. Following weeks of outrage and numerous calls for his resignation, Johnson prepared a statement, which was presented this morning to the district's board of trustees.
In his statement, which you can read in full below, Johnson says he''s "a just local businessman" and "a sentimental dad" who enjoys giving back to the community, and he apologizes for not crediting McCullough. But he immediately undermines those sentiments with this seething kiss-off:
I understand that for some in our community – the self-appointed referees of good and evil – no explanation or apology I can offer is good enough. But I’m comfortable in the knowledge that their intolerance, so readily on display, is a far more profound flaw than mine.
This afternoon, the school board released a statement of its own, saying Johnson's apology was appreciated, if a bit tardy. Johnson didn't offer to resign, and the board didn't ask him to. Instead it's proposing to explain "approved academic and ethical standards" in its bylaws and develop a handbook for board members. The board also says it will reconsider the format for graduation ceremonies, "including Board member participation."
In closing, the board conveys its sincere hope that people will now "move forward."
Read both statements in full below.
Here's Johnson's statement:
“I want to address an issue that has been made of my comments at the Arcata High graduation last month.
“As a sentimental dad who did not go to college myself, I just wanted to use my speaking opportunity to do something special for my daughter, who has graduated with a 4.04 GPA and is headed off to Santa Clara University.
“Like so many others, I was inspired by the 2012 Wellesley High School commencement speech of David McCollough Jr. It was a blunt, but ultimately inspiring, message to the graduates. My speech prep skills are lacking, and when I had heard the speech on the radio and liked the message, it gave me ideas for the speech I delivered at graduation.
“What I prepared to deliver at the graduation ceremony was a personalized version of McCollough’s message directed to my daughter. I thought all in attendance might appreciate it.
“My mistake, as community members, HSU professors and Arcata High faculty, much smarter than I, have informed me, was not simply crediting McCollough for his words and I'm sorry for that. I appreciate the constructive criticism and education I've received.
“I'm not an educator, journalist or author. I'm a just local businessman. I enjoy giving back to my community through Rotary, Casa, HSU athletics, non-profit board involvement, youth activities and service on this board, etc...
“The message I wanted to deliver is that I am proud of my daughter and want her to remember as McCullough spoke, ‘You’re not special, because EVERYONE is.’ And in my words, that ‘achievement is based on results, and results are what is most valued.’
“I understand that for some in our community – the self-appointed referees of good and evil – no explanation or apology I can offer is good enough. But I’m comfortable in the knowledge that their intolerance, so readily on display, is a far more profound flaw than mine.”
And here's the statement from the Northern Humboldt Union High School District Board of Trustees: