CHCCS Superintendent: Plagiarism Accusations Gone Too Far

By Ran Northam Posted November 20, 2013 at 2:18 pm

CHAPEL HILL – Teachers at Chapel Hill High School are accusing the school’s principal of plagiarism in internal communications, but Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools District Superintendent Tom Forcella says many of the resources she used were likely the same a lot of principals and teachers use.

“I know that there are a variety of books that principals have access to with sample letters,” Forcella says.

Forcella says he has reviewed the letters in question. One was compared to a letter Principal Salura Jackson wrote at her former school, Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan; the other was compared to one written by an Arizona high school administrator.

“It sounds very similar to letters I’ve read time and again that probably use the same model that are in a variety of different books that principals can pick up that really, kind of, give you a framework for writing a letter,” Forcella says.

Teachers told the Independent Weekly that they were embarrassed when they found out she did this. However, the works were not published; they were internal communications and she told the Indy she could point out the sources if someone asked.

Forcella says the point that was most puzzling to him was that the article pointed to the fact that Jackson copied letters she wrote while she was at her former school.

“Ms. Jackson was the founding principal of the school that she worked at and the only principal they ever had,” Forcella says. “So, I think if she’s using information or using written material from her prior school, she probably wrote it.”

Forcella says he hopes the school and the district will learn from this matter about how to best handle internal matters.

“If this were a concern by a few staff members, I think it would have been a lot easier to contact the principal directly and just say ‘I’m wondering if this was cited correctly’ or ‘I saw this letter somewhere else’ rather than going to the media and created a story that I think there was a perfect explanation for,” Forcella says.

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