RSU 40 board backs superintendent against plagiarism claim

Posted Sept. 27, 2012, at 11:02 p.m.

FRIENDSHIP, Maine — The Regional School Unit 40 board gave its unanimous backing Thursday night to its superintendent amid claims that she simply took the strategic plan of another school district and passed it off as her plan for the district.

The board vote came after an approximately 90-minute closed-door session with Superintendent Susan Pratt.

A motion was made by board member Tod Brown that the board had “no doubt” that the plan she submitted was a first draft as she had said and that she now would work to include the input provided by the community.

At the public comment session of the meeting, residents pointed out that the proposed RSU 40 strategic plan submitted by Pratt two weeks ago was nearly word-for-word the same as the one developed by RSU 21 in the Kennebunk area in November 2010.

Resident Hugh Magbie of Warren said he came to the meeting with a heavy heart and said he could not understand how the two plans could be so similar and not include the recommendations from the public and staff at a forum in March. RSU 40 includes Waldoboro, Warren, Union, Friendship and Washington.

“It’s incumbent on the board to explain why we have a cribbed plan from another RSU,” Magbie said. His comment was greeted with applause from many of the approximately 35 people at the meeting held at the Friendship Village School.

Teacher Melissa Barbour said if her son had done what the superintendent had done, he would have been castigated and possibly expelled from school.

Following the conclusion of the 90-minute closed-door session and the vote of support for Pratt, the board voted to go into another closed-door session at 10 p.m. to discuss negotiations with teachers. The teacher contract expired at the end of the past school year.

Pratt was going into that meeting and said she would not be able to call after the session to comment on other issues, noting how late it would be.

Magbie noted that even the letters from the superintendents introducing the strategic plan were identical except for the names of the districts and the names of the superintendents.

One example from the superintendents’ letters that were exactly the same was the following: “In these pages you will find an honest reflection of where we are, where we hope to go, and targets by which we will measure our achievement. We have tried to be visionary while appreciating our current realities, and we have set aggressive goals while remaining cognizant of the challenges that threaten our progress.”

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