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Mass. superintendent fined for plagiarizing graduation speeches

- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2014

A Massachusetts school superintendent was docked one week's salary for plagiarizing two graduation speeches he delivered last month from Gov. Deval Patrick.

Newton superintendent David Fleishman admitted it was wrong to lift several passages from Mr. Patrick's speeches without crediting him.

"That was my mistake," he told The Boston Globe. "In my judgment, it is essential that public officials not only accept critical feedback but acknowledge when we have made mistakes."

The questionable passages became public Wednesday, one week after Mansfield superintendent Brenda Hodges resigned amid plagiarism accusations, The Globe reported.

The story was first reported by Newton South High School's student newspaper, which pointed out a passage from Mr. Fleishman's speech at the school's commencement ceremony on June 9.

"Lastly, personal connection, the nuance of empathy and understanding, is often more incremental and complex than Twitter," Mr. Fleishman said, The Globe reported.

Mr. Patrick similarly told Boston University graduates in May: "Real human connection, the nuance of empathy and understanding, is often more gradual and elongated than Twitter."

"Social media, as we have seen, can start a revolution. But can it bring peace?" Mr. Patrick said at the time.

Mr. Fleishman echoed: "We saw social media lead to revolutions in the Middle East, but did it bring peace?"

Mr. Fleishman delivered a similar speech to Newton North High graduates again the next day, The Globe reported.

The school board said in a statement Thursday that it accepted Mr. Fleishman's acknowledgment and expressed confidence he is the "right leader to continue moving our system forward."

"We have seen exceptional growth and progress in our schools during his four years," board members wrote, The Globe reported.

Mr. Fleishman declined to admit to plagiarism, but said he accepted the board's punishment.

He said the incident has been a reminder that public officials need to be "as careful in their spoken remarks as they are in their written remarks — something that too often gets lost," The Globe reported.

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