Plagiarism Claim Due to Lack of Attribution, Superintendent Says
Bedminster's Carolyn Koos said she wrote a message that mirrored one written by another superintendent.
Bedminster Township School Superintendent Carolyn Koos has taken down from the website a message she sent out to the community with comments similar to those written by another superintendent—and she said Thursday that it is all a misunderstanding due to lack of attribution.
In her new year’s message sent out Jan. 2, Koos wrote: “There is no question that the name Bedminster, whether in reference to the city or the school district resonates great pride to those who live, work and are educated here. This is a great asset for our school community and was the impetus for our school district’s current mission statement: 'Bedminster-Developing World Class Learners and Global Citizens.'"
This mirrors the beginning of a letter written by Bettendorf Community School District Superintendent of Schools Theron Shutte, in Iowa: “There is no question that the name Bettendorf, whether in reference to the city or the school district resonates great pride to those who live, work and are educated here. This is a great asset for our school community and was the impetus for our school district's current mission statement: 'Educational excellence is the foundation of the Bettendorf Community School District. Working in partnership with the family and community, we will instill and nurture in all students the knowledge, skills, creativity, and confidence to pursue their dreams and to succeed in a global society.'"
Koos said the possible plagiarism was due to her accidental lack of attribution.
“In my haste to provide an inspirational message for Bedminster, I put the comments of Dr. Shutte into my message and should have been attributed to him,” she said.
“It was a mistake, and when I then attributed it to him, I took it down because it became a distraction,” she added.
Koos was working in Illinois before moving to Bedminster, and before that she was in Galesburg, Ill., traveling back and forth to Bettendorf while she was on the city council.
“I decided not to rerun for the council because it was too far,” she said. “I still attended Bettendorf functions throughout my tenure in Illinois.”
Koos, who said she met Shutte while working on the Bettendorf City Council, said she has an email from him indicating his permission to use the similar statements in her messages to the community.
“I have been stating these same principals for years,” Koos said. “Dr. Shutte does not regard this as a problem, and I have an email indicating his permission.”
“I have been and am committed to these commonly held educational principles,” she added.
Koos has since taken down the original message and posted a new one on the school website concerning the new year.
This is the full text of her new message:
"A new beginning! Hopefully 2013 will bring you and your family good health, happiness and prosperity. I hope you had an enjoyable winter break and were able to get some rest.
Sometimes it is good to take a step back and reassess everything in our lives. How can I improve, am I as efficient as I should be, am I spending enough time with my combined family of nine children and fifteen … no wait … two more were just born around the 1st of January … seventeen grandchildren. I have made plenty of mistakes both at work and at home. I then reflect about times when I had a dream and a vision for my new role as superintendent at Bedminster, it was filled with excitement and passion for not only the school but the community.
The Bedmister school community truly aligns with our current mission statement: 'Bedminster-Developing World Class Learners and Global Citizens.' Whether it is our dedicated teachers, committed parents, devoted Board of Education or our enthusiastic and supportive community, the top priority and commitment is to develop a top learning organization of excellence. We must be mindful of those who share their time and talents to make our school a beacon of high ideals and values of education. On behalf of everyone here, thank you to those who have given your time, resources and shared your talents in support of our students and staff.
Creating a culture requires a vision and mission of what is possible, a plan to set it in motion and the practices to provide ongoing improvement. Bedminster has that sense of teamwork and ownership, a commitment to fulfillment of the vision and mission, emphasis on professional development, encouragement of innovation and creativity and stakeholder communication.
Every school district wants excellence, but Bedminster is unique. The community holds high their traditions and high standard way of being rather than just existing-status quo. Bedminster is a culture of synergy; it is energized and goes beyond the ordinary.
Deal & Kennedy's research shows that organizations that 'have cultivated their individual identities by shaping values, making heroes, spelling out rites and rituals and acknowledging the cultural network have an edge.'
What will be the hallmarks for Bedminster School and the community? How will we know that we are an inspiring community and top notch learning environment?
Our District Evaluation Advisory Committee (DEAC) committee is a prime example of how we can work together as a united front-teamwork with all stakeholders at the table and hold the ability to maintain an environment of learning excellence and professionalism.
Bedminster is an excellent school district because we have a community who is devoted to a tradition of excellence. That is the Bedminster culture—that is the way we do things around here.
A new beginning. Let us take a step back and assess all that is dear to us in our community. Bedminster is at an important juncture. The greatest challenge before us today is, how we continue to enhance the sturdy, long-established superiority of academic standards and development of Bedminster. Looking down the road of time—what would the future say about our educational decisions and values? Today, Bedminster’s learning environment and culture is making the right decisions for our greatest and most precious pride—our children and students.
Carolyn R. Koos"
Koos said she does not know what day the new message was posted on the website.