Montana school official caught plagiarizing Fulton County column
by The Associated Press
February 11, 2013 12:00 AM | 891 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The superintendent of a western Montana school district has apologized for plagiarizing a column written by a Georgia school official concerning school safety following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.

Florence-Carlton School District Superintendent John C. McGee admitted copying the work of Fulton County School System Superintendent Robert Avossa after an anonymous blogger last month posted a link to both articles.

The column McGee claimed as his appeared on the front of the January edition of the district’s newsletter. He said he knew including his name was wrong, but he was in a rush to get the newsletter sent out on time.

“I do accept full responsibility,” McGee told the Ravalli Republic. “This has been very embarrassing for me, and I shouldn’t have done it. What happened was there was an article written by a superintendent out of Fulton County, Georgia. It was very inspirational — words that could easily apply to our district. We published it without credit being given to that superintendent. My main administrative assistant had taken a vacation to attend a wedding over the Christmas break, and we usually have a deadline to get the newsletters out for the first of the month. People want it because of the hot lunch schedule, and we get calls when it doesn’t come out on time.”

McGee replaced the name of the Georgia school district with his school district, and omitted the number of police officers at Fulton County schools. Other than that, it appeared word for word.

“Well, when the printed article came back, I picked up the issue,” McGee said. “I saw my name was on the article, but I made the decision at that point to send the article out with my name attached, even though I knew full well it was incorrect and wrong.”

After the blogger pointed out what McGee had done, McGee reported what had occurred to the school board.

“We have addressed it,” said School Board Trustee Vickie Cornish. “He self-reported it. He was given two tasks: to write a correction and to apologize to Mr. Avossa. He has done those two things, and he has apologized to the board. As far as we are concerned, it’s over. He made a poor decision, but he gave us a sufficient explanation for what happened.”

The one-paragraph correction appeared on the bottom of page 2 of the district’s February newsletter.

McGee said he sent a letter to Avossa explaining what happened but said he hasn’t heard back.

A message left for Avossa on Saturday at the Fulton County School System by The Associated Press wasn’t returned.

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