Friday, July 26, 2013

School Board Responds to Johnson's Plagiarism Apology

Posted By on Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 5:38 PM


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.

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About The Author

Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns worked for the Journal from 2008 to 2013, covering a diverse mix of North Coast subjects, from education, politics and marijuana to human suspension, sex parties and amateur fight contests. He won awards for investigative reporting, feature stories and news coverage.

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