Embattled Chapel Hill High School Principal Sulura Jackson addressed the allegations of plagiarism in a recorded phone message this weekend, apologizing for the distraction caused by the controversy and pledging proper citation in the future.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools spokesman Jeff Nash confirmed Monday that parents and staff at the Chapel Hill school received the message Friday night. Jackson is accused of plagiarism in school memos and letters both before and after her arrival in Chapel Hill this summer.
“Although I was saddened to hear it through the newspaper, I have heard the requests of this staff and community and, beginning now, I am committed to citing these sources, whether broad or specific, and modeling proper protocols for all to see,” Jackson said in the message.
Nash did not say whether any additional disciplinary action is pending for the principal. Multiple documents obtained by INDY Week show Jackson seemed to lift entire passages for letters and messages written in her capacity as principal at Chapel Hill High and her former school, Skyline High in Ann Arbor, Mich. Jackson would sign those passages herself and offer no citations.
Members of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education have not returned multiple phone calls for comment on the controversy, which has angered parents and some staff at the school.
Jackson defended herself last week in the INDY, saying her actions do not qualify as plagiarism because she is not receiving compensation for that work or turning in her writing for a grade. That would seem to clash with her school's definition of plagiarism. According to the student handbook, plagiarism would denote "copying the language, structure, idea and/or thought of another person and representing it as one's own original work or using information obtained from printed or electronic media that is not appropriately referenced."
Here is Jackson’s recorded message in its entirety:
“Good evening Chapel Hill High students, parents and staff. This is Principal Sulura Jackson.
I'm calling this evening to tell you about an important lesson I learned this week regarding the value of always citing sources in newsletters and other internal correspondence that goes out to staff. Throughout my career, I have made a practice of implementing a variety of resources, including books, online tools and even public access templates specifically designed for educators to use in communicating.
Although I was saddened to hear it through the newspaper, I have heard the requests of this staff and community and, beginning now, I am committed to citing these sources, whether broad or specific, and modeling proper protocols for all to see.
As always, I am happy to entertain any questions about my intentions or sources and I apologize for any distraction this may have caused.
Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.”
The future for Chapel Hill High School Principal Sulura Jackson is unclear at the moment, following this week's plagiarism allegations. The allegations, as well as the evidence, are covered in detail in this week's Indy. Read it online here.
Members of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education were already scheduled to meet tonight at the Lincoln Center in Chapel Hill. The board's agenda says members will discuss a personnel matter in closed session starting at 6 p.m. The public portion of the meeting begins at 7 p.m.
School administrators have defended Jackson, lauding her for attempts to increase communication at the school. However, many parents and teachers are angry.
For her part, Jackson has not denied using other materials to fill her writing, but she says it would not be considered plagiarism because she is not turning in her memos and letters for a grade or compensation.
Here is the Chapel Hill High student handbook. This is what it says on plagiarism: "Plagiarizing is copying the language, structure, idea and/or thought of another person and representing it as one's own original work or using information obtained from printed or electronic media that is not appropriately referenced."
Due to space limitations with this week's story, not all of the corresponding documents could be shown. We will post some of these documents here, including memos that show the principal—before and after her arrival at Chapel Hill High—lifted quotes and ideas from books without providing citation.
This first memo on finishing strong, dated November 2012 when Jackson was principal at Skyline High in Ann Arbor, Mich., pulls directly from a book by motivational writer Dan Green. Jackson signs the memo as if they are her words and does not offer any citation.
In this August 2013 memo (PDF below) to Chapel Hill High staff, Jackson talks about something she calls the "100/0 principle," a method of relationship building she explains as taking "full responsibility (the 100) for the relationship, expecting nothing (the 0) in return."
The problem is that the idea belongs to workplace consultant Al Ritter. Watch a video explaining the idea here. The word choice will sound familiar.
More to come on this as it happens.
Expect redistricting drama to begin anew in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools tonight.
The school system's Board of Education will take on the subject of Glenwood Elementary overcrowding during tonight's meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Smith Middle School auditorium on Seawell School Road. Read the agenda here.
School officials say Chapel Hill's Glenwood Elementary, home of an expanding Mandarin Dual Language program, is already 90 students above its capacity. That number will grow to 155 in 2014-2015 as the school's dual language and non-dual language programs continue to swell.
The popular dual language program allows students to receive instruction in both English and Mandarin with the goal of encouraging bilingual students.
Solutions on the table for school board members include a redistricting and the creation of a magnet school with Spanish and Mandarin dual language programs in fall 2015 or fall 2014.
Redistricting, which must be approved by the Board of Education, figures to affect multiple schools, with one staff recommendation diverting 84 children to Northside and Rashkis elementary schools.
The new redistricting comes just months after school board members settled a contentious redistricting to fill Chapel Hill's Northside Elementary Schools. Expect fresh fireworks. Stay tuned.
Incumbents coasted and a few plucky newcomers were winners in last night's elections in Orange County.
In the race for four seats on the Chapel Hill Town Council, the clear winners were current Mayor Pro Tem Ed Harrison, Councilwoman Sally Greene and two challengers in local pastor Maria Palmer and Duke University pathologist George Cianciolo.
In Carrboro, the three incumbents—Jacquelyn Gist, Randee Haven-O'Donnell and Sammy Slade—were the victors.
In Hillsborough, Jenn Weaver and Kathleen Ferguson won seats on the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners.
And in the race for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, information technology specialist Andrew Davidson joined incumbents Michelle Brownstein and James Barrett in victory.
Meanwhile, Lydia Lavelle, Tom Stevens and Mark Kleinschmidt ran unopposed for mayor in Carrboro, Hillsborough and Chapel Hill, respectively.
A plus-sized UNC advisory board—beset with controversy before the first gavel—convened for the first time Wednesday, mulling over the state universities' curriculum and changing demographics.
The UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions, which includes 31 leaders in education, business and politics, is expected to consider the future of the state's 17 public universities, but its makeup garnered more headlines than its actual charge before Wednesday's session.
Critics are fired up over a handful of appointments, including the selection of publicly right-tilting businessmen like Art Pope and Fred Eshelman. UNC Board of Governors Chairman Peter Hans and UNC President Tom Ross made the appointments.
Pope, CEO of Variety Wholesalers Inc., has spent millions on conservative think tanks, advocacy groups and political campaigns backing right-wing causes. Ditto for Eshelman, a pharmaceutical bigwig who spent $3 million launching the conservative Rightchange.com. UNC-Chapel Hill's pharmacy school is named for Eshelman.
In Pope's case, he's also been a vocal advocate for charter schools and his groups have lobbied for budget cuts for public schools.
Neither played much part in the early proceedings Wednesday, with Pope arriving just before noon for a meeting that began at 9:30 a.m.
The commitee also includes the appointment of legislative leaders like powerful Republicans Thom Tillis and Phil Berger. Berger is president pro tempore of the N.C. Senate. Tillis is speaker of the N.C. House of Representatives. Sen. Floyd McKissick Jr., a Durham Democrat, is also a member of the committee.
Committee leaders are facing pressure to include more student and faculty representation on the panel. Wednesday's roll call included one UNC student and one faculty member, although officials have indicated more members may be appointed.
UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp, who announced last week that he would end his scandal-plagued tenure next spring, said little Wednesday, although at one point prior to the committee session, a faculty member could be heard pleading with Thorp to change his mind about his resignation.
Committee members heard a presentation Wednesday morning from UNC-Chapel Hill business professor James Johnson Jr., whose overview of prevailing demographic trends in North Carolina showed the state's universities can expect radical change in student population in the coming years.
According to Johnson, North Carolina's Hispanic population grew by 829 percent from 1990 to 2007. In that time frame, the Asian population grew by 332 percent. Compare that to growth among white and black residents—127 percent and 133 percent, respectively.
"They're going to be far more diverse," Johnson said.
Johnson also urged leaders to focus efforts on narrowing the gender gap in academic achievement, pointing out boys and men are struggling mightily in the job market and academics compared to their female counterparts.
"This is imminently fixable," Johnson said. "And if we don't fix it, we're going to be in trouble."
The advisory committee is expected to present its recommendations to the UNC Board of Governors in January.
Chancellor Holden Thorp—beset by academic and athletic scandal in his short tenure at UNC-Chapel Hill—seems to at least have a chunk of the university's employees in his corner.
The school's Employee Forum, a group representing university staff, is holding a "peaceful" rally supporting the troubled chancellor this morning in front of South Building, the school's administrative HQ.
Thorp announced Monday that he would step down from his post at the close of the 2012-13 academic year after two years of an athletic scandal that began with the school's football program and expanded into the academic sphere.
In a statement Tuesday, the forum expressed "heartfelt dismay" at Thorp's decision, urging UNC President Tom Ross, the UNC board of trustees and the UNC System Board of Governors to back Thorp.
"We have found a true friend in Chancellor Thorp since he began working with us in 2008," the statement said. "Chancellor Thorp is a leader and visionary who has greatly improved working conditions for staff."
The forum credited Thorp with raising employee wages, addressing longstanding troubles in the university's housekeeping department, increasing efficiency in the university and allowing "unprecedented access to him and his office."
The forum is also circulating petitions urging the chancellor to reconsider his resignation. The petitions will be available to sign from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today in the UNC-Chapel Hill Pit, Wilson Library and South Building.
Today's rally is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at South Building.
Dueling petitions regarding the chancellor are already circulating on social media websites like Facebook. One, simply titled "Fire Holden Thorp," had 1,458 likes as of Friday morning, as well as a smattering of anti-Thorp messages.
Another Change.org petition directed at Ross urges the system president to reject Thorp's resignation. As of Friday morning, 54 people had signed the petition.
Embattled UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp is on the way out.
WRAL reported Monday morning that Thorp will step down at the close of the 2012-13 academic year, ending a watch that has been plagued by allegations of academic improprieties, primarily associated with the school's football program.
The school confirmed the news in a press release later Monday morning. This comes after Thorp met privately Friday with the UNC Board of Governors, the panel in charge of the state's public universities. The release said Thorp on Sunday told UNC President Tom Ross of his plans to resign.
"I will always do what is best for this university," Thorp said in the release. "This wasn't an easy decision personally. But when I thought about the university and how important it's been to me, to North Carolinians and to hundreds of thousands of alumni, my answer became clear."
Thorp has held the position since 2008. A UNC-Chapel Hill graduate and former chemistry professor, Thorp was among the youngest university leaders in the nation when he accepted the chancellor's post at the age of 43.
But the school's reputation has been sullied in the last two years by allegations of improper benefits for football players, as well as an ongoing investigation into academic misconduct—including altered grades and infrequently-taught courses—in the university's Department of African or Afro-American Studies. The classes in question were popular among UNC athletes.
Most recently, the school has been in the headlines over accusations of improper travel spending among UNC fundraisers.
Thorp acknowledged the UNC scandals in Monday's release.
"Over the last two years, we have identified a number of areas that need improvement," he said. "We have a good start on reforms that are important for the future of this university. I have pledged that we will be a better university, and I am 100 percent confident in that."
Ross said he would work with UNC-Chapel Hill board of trustees Chairman Wade Hargrove to find a successor to Thorp.
The Howard and Lillian Lee Scholars Charter School is a long shot to open in August. Its founders are struggling to find a suitable temporary location for the school as they navigating the zoning approval process for a permanent site.
Amid opposition from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board and the local NAACP, the North Carolina State Board of Education approved fast-track status for the Lee School in February, clearing the way for the group to open later this year.
But now, as a backup plan, they say, the school’s brass has submitted a request to the state to open in 2013.
Danita Mason-Hogans, a member of the Lee board of directors, said the group identified one site in Chapel Hill and one in Carrboro but neither area was zoned for a school. She said she did not know the exact locations.
“There are some problems with both of the spaces based on the number of students we’d like to have in the school,” she said. “We had full intentions of opening in August. Now it looks like that may be put on hold.”
An N.C. State University professor who wants to start a new charter school in Raleigh was arrested earlier this month for failing to appear in court on earlier charges.
Kenan Gundogdu, 34, has applied to start the Triangle Math and Science Academy, which would be a spinoff of the Triad Math and Science Academy in Greensboro. The physics professor serves on the Greensboro school's board.
According to court records, a Raleigh police officer cited Gundogdu on Dec. 3, 2011, for driving without insurance and for driving with a canceled, revoked or suspended tag. Raleigh police later arrested Gundogdu, who lives in Cary, for failing to appear in court, a misdemeanor. He was released from the Wake County jail on $500 bail, a spokeswoman said.
Gundogdu is scheduled to appear in court March 19, according to court records.
Gundogdu has been the lead applicant in three attempts to start the science-and-math-focused charter school in Raleigh. His two previous applications were not approved during the time when the state had a cap on the number of charter schools.
Once the state lifted the cap on charters last year, Gundogdu applied again under the "fast-track" process. The State Board of Education is scheduled to approve a list of "fast-track" applications on Feb. 29 and March 1. If approved, the schools could open in fall 2012.
Applicants have told state officials that they're eying the former Exploris Middle School in downtown Raleigh as a possible site for the K-6 school with 270 students the first year.
Gundogdu couldn't be immediately reached for comment.
The N.C. Department of Public Instruction released reports today on school discipline and high school dropouts. The rate of dropouts decreased statewide and in Durham, Orange, Wake and Chatham counties. The rate increased slightly in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools.
Statewide, the numbers of suspensions and expulsions of students decreased, as well, according to a statement from N.C. DPI.