When Rick Mills recently took charge of Manatee District Schools in Bradenton, Fla., he vowed to restore public trust, rebuild employee morale and establish a culture of respect.
If that sounds familiar to readers in the Charlotte area, that's because Mills copied most of his 100-day entry plan from the one Heath Morrison presented to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools last May, the (Sarasota) Herald-Tribune reports.
"I gratefully acknowledge Dr. Heath Morrison, Superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, for giving me permission to adopt his Entry Plan for use in Manatee District Schools," a new cover note says, adding two additional points: "*Contains verbatim portions of Dr. Morrison’s entry plan, which were used with his permission. **Though the initial publication of this plan acknowledged the use of Dr. Morrison’s plan as the foundation for this document and cited his permission to adopt any or all parts of that plan for this district’s use, the above citation was improperly omitted."
I doubt anyone is shocked that superintendents share thoughts on common problems and solutions. The headline-grabber might be finding a district that doesn't have issues with morale, trust and transparency. But the extent of the copying (the Herald-Tribune posted both documents with the common language highlighted) was enough to raise questions from an official at the Poynter Institute, a journalism center in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Herald-Tribune article quoted plagiarism expert Kelly McBride as calling the work "intellectually dishonest."
But Mills' plan got a thumbs-up from the editorial board of the Bradenton Herald, which Sunday praised the plan as a bright spot in his opening days and called his willingness to confront public distrust "a breath of fresh air."