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Superintendent acknowledges his mistakes

File photo.
File photo.

File photo.
by Maxwell Kozlov
Over the course of the summer, news sources revealed that parts of superintendent David Fleishman’s commencement address at this year’s high school graduations closely matched passages from a commencement speech given by governor Deval Patrick.
In light of these events, the Newtonite sat down with Fleishman for his response to his violation of a value—academic integrity—by which all students must abide:
Q: Many Newton residents found your first statement to the public frustratingly unapologetic. The second statement you released, however, has a much more apologetic tone. Did something change in your attitude towards your plagiarism
A: The first statement was just an acknowledgement of what happened, and not a statement to the community. The second release was a statement to the community that spelled out my mistakes
Q: What are your thoughts regarding your actions?
A: It was a serious mistake; I should have credited Governor Deval Patrick. I regret and apologize for my actions. I failed to lead by example.
Q: How have you prepared for speeches in the past?
A: Usually I spend much more time on speeches, start early, talk to people about my ideas, and put it all together. I did none of those things for this speech. It was a big, costly mistake. Contrary to my other speeches, I did this one really quickly, and I did not collaborate with others. However, I received no gain from it; it was just a foolish mistake.
Q: What can students take away from this?
A: The lesson here is to be as careful with speeches as writing. You have to credit your work. I made my whole ordeal and punishment public so everyone could learn a lesson. I believe in accountability, and I was held accountable.
Q: How does your plagiarism compare to student plagiarism?
A: If students plagiarize, it’s to get a better grade on their transcript. I had no advantage to plagiarizing; it was hasty and sloppy what I did. Plagiarism means getting an advantage. I didn’t get a pass, so the students won’t either. Trust me, no one wants to go through what I’ve been going through.
Q: Do you think your punishment fit your crime? What message does it sends to students that your punishment was money?
A: A dock of pay is a serious consequence for employees. It sends a message, because I actually work for the money, as opposed to a sports player who might go on vacation and still get paid.
Q: Do you think you would have had a different punishment if your plagiarism had been clearly intentional?
A: I don’t think the School Committee thought about it as intentional or unintentional when they decided my punishment.

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