Parents accuse RSU 40 superintendent of 'cribbing' strategic plan
Friendship — The Regional School Unit 40 Board unanimously voted to allow Superintendent Susan A. Pratt to create a second draft of the district's strategic plan after accusations the draft — submitted two weeks ago — was copied from another district.
The decision was reached after a lengthy executive session discussing the personnel matter. The decision, read by board member Tod Brown, said the current plan was a first draft and a second draft would be designed considering recommendations from the community.
During a meeting in March, parents, educators and administrators assembled to formulate ideas and recommend district goals for the next five years.
Following the meeting, one parent said she was disappointed with the board's decision and said it made cheating appear justifiable.
A strategic plan designed two years ago for Regional School Unit 21, representing Arundel, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport is almost identical to the plan submitted by Pratt, said parents at the Thursday, Sept. 27, meeting.
Standing to address the board, parent Hugh Magbie said, "I'm very sorry that I found none of the ideas, initiatives or any of the work that we did in the last part of March reflected in this letter. That's very distressing for those who spent a lot of time and effort to help the district with the plan. I cannot fathom why this plan is identical to another school's, down to the page numbers, suggestions, and the superintendent's letter, which is repeated verbatim."
Magbie requested the board explain why a "cribbed" plan was disseminated to educators.
Magbie's, and subsequent speakers' words, were met with applause from the audience.
The school board did not address any public accusations and continued with the agenda following public input.
The similarities in the districts' plans were noticed when employees of the district typed the first sentence of the first page of the plan into the search engine Google, said Melissa Barbour, a Medomak Valley High School English teacher and parent.
Barbour said intellectual property is an important issue and believes if "somebody takes something like that, they'll take anything." She added the district has great students that deserve effective role models and leaders.
Some of high school students attended the meeting because they said they were upset by the allegations RSU 40's plan was copied.
Senior Elise Wallace of Friendship said the superintendent was sending the wrong message and added that if students were to plagiarize an assignment in college, they would be expelled.
"We are not RSU 21 — we have different wants and needs," said senior Taylor Packard of Union.
Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at JLaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com