How NOT to Respond to Online Criticism: Principal Matt Sanger’s Alleged Plagiarism

Garden Spot High School Principal Matt Sanger was busted by LancasterOnline.com for allegedly plagiarizing whole chunks of his commencement speech from a famous speech delivered in 2005 by the late author David Foster Wallace.  His failure to acknowledge the gravity of his actions fueled the flames of outrage.

(UnhappyFranchisee.Com) by Sean Kelly Garden Spot High School Principal Matt Sanger was busted by LancasterOnline.com for allegedly plagiarizing whole chunks of his commencement speech from a famous speech delivered in 2005 by the late author David Foster Wallace.

Lancaster Newspapers’ soft-peddling the plagiarism by calling it “borrowing” may have intensified the firestorm of angry comments condemning both Sanger’s actions and his seeming inability to grasp the seriousness of his offense.

Sanger added to the perception that he wasn’t quite comprehending the significance of his unattributed “borrowing” by posting a letter of apology to the school’s website over the weekend.

While he apologized for tarnishing an “otherwise beautiful commencement ceremony,” Sanger launches a complicated and seemingly irrelevant explanation of the three printed versions of his script.

He complains that Lancaster Newspapers did not mention that he had a version of the speech (tucked away in his desk, I guess) that had full citations, even though the one he delivered did not.

He makes no admission or denial of having committed one of academia’s most heinous sins in front of a class of graduating students.

In fact, he apologized for not attributing or recognizing Mr. Wallace or production company TeamONE “for their inspiration,” although he used direct passages of copy verbatim (and, I guess, TeamONE’s images) without attribution.

His response appeared on the High School’s website over the weekend and was deleted on Monday after the newspaper jumped on it.

Here’s the cached version of the deleted website post, which appeared on the Garden Spot High School website (I have reposted his speeches on our servers):

In Response to LNP’s Article Pertaining to Commencement 2014

Dear GSHS:

As I am sure most of you have already seen, LancasterOnline published an article this afternoon (6/7/2014) pertaining to the speech I delivered Friday evening at commencement. Unfortunately, I have put Garden Spot High School in a negative light, and I have tarnished an otherwise beautiful commencement ceremony. For that I sincerely apologize.

In preparation for this year’s commencement speech, I dedicated hours of research in hopes of finding something that would inspire, challenge, and motivate our students as they graduate. In doing so, I came across a YouTube video entitled This is Water. Its message immediately resonated with me and I thought it would resonate with the Class of 2014. The YouTube video showcased audio sound bites of a graduation speech that was delivered by David Wallace. It also contained some higher-end video production created by TeamONE, which inspired the PowerPoint presentation I developed to go along with the speech.

In preparing for commencement, I developed three versions of the speech (see attached). The first version is what I consider to be the “full version”, which includes in-text citations and a works cited page. The second version is what I consider to be the “tech” version, which includes PowerPoint transition reminders for our tech crew. The third version is what I consider to be the “on-stage” version, which is free of citations and PowerPoint transition reminders.  I scanned the latter version for Lancaster Newspapers late Friday afternoon just before 4 PM. This was a mistake on my part because I should have shared the full version with the appropriate citations.

Regardless, I am not pleased that Lancaster Newspapers failed to mention in the article that I had a copy of the speech I delivered with appropriate citations. This is neither here nor there at this point. The bottom line is, I did not attribute or recognize Mr. Wallace or TeamONE for their inspiration on Friday evening and that was a mistake. Again, I am sorry for the embarrassment this has brought to our school community and our students.

I trust you will find it in your hearts to forgive me. Thanks for your time.

Respectfully,

Matthew J. Sanger – Principal

Related Files

 

pdf14_Commencement Speech Final_Works Cited(pdf file – 337kb)

pdf 14_Commencement Speech Final_TECH  (pdf file – 289kb)

pdf 14_Commencement Speech Final (pdf file – 292kb)

 

Here’s a screenshot of the cached Garden Spot page (Click to enlarge):

Matt Sanger Response

 

 

ALSO READ:

Garden Spot principal admits to borrowing commencement speech

Garden Spot principal’s defense of speech removed from school website

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TAGS: Matt Sanger, Principal Matt Sanger, Garden Spot Principal Sanger, Plagiarism, Plagiarized commencement speech, Matt Sanger plagiarism,

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