winona area public schools plagiarism case
used under CCO 1.0, via pixabay.com

Stephen West was a superintendent at Winona Area Public Schools, until one day he faced plagiarism accusations. In his resume he stated that he holds Master’s Degree and Ph.D. from St. Mary’s University. Yet the situation with a Ph.D. degree is rather confusing as his thesis “African Americans’ Motivations for Becoming Principals” shows absolutely plagiarized parts from another dissertation “Career Development of African American Male High School Principals” written earlier at the University of Georgia by Dennis Leroy Humphrey.  

Moreover, Laura Hayes, education reporter and Sarah Squires, editor at the Winona Post, performed investigation, and it appeared that Mr. West does not hold a Ph.D. degree, and that is what St. Mary’s University confirmed. So, the thesis could be written, but not defended.

Later on, while performing his work duties, Stephen West was supposed to write a plan on the technology use, but the Board Chair Ben Baratto found that the plan contained word-for-word phrases from the already published resources, namely some paragraphs from the manual of the private chain Christian schools as well as other paragraphs from Waltham Public Schools.

The plan did contain plagiarism, so Kelly Halvorsen, the director of teaching and learning confirmed that many experts reviewed and edited “TL21” plan. Finally, the plan was published on the resource full of such technical documents.

Mr. West’s Reaction to Allegations

For some time Mr. West haven’t been commenting on plagiarism allegations at all. His school management performance was highly appreciated, as well as a new programming AVID implementation that he elaborated together with some other colleagues. That made the Board voted for his another three years contract prolongation.

However, Stephen West decided to resign, and had to wait for some time till resignation acceptance. After a thorough investigation, University Board accepted Stephen’s resignation and decided to pay off his vacation time, unused sick days, as well as cover medical insurance expenses for him and his family till the end of June, 2017.

Today, the position of an interim superintendent holds Kelly Halvorsen. Another simple plagiarism case happened at Toronto District School where Mr. Spence resigned after plagiarism accusations.

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