Dan Johnson’s Accusatory Apologia, With Cover Letter

Thursday, July 25, 2013
Dan Johnson.

Dan Johnson.

Update: This morning a hitherto unreleased cover letter for the statement written by Boardmember Dan Johnson was read by NHUHSD Board President Mike Pigg. It is appended immediately below, with Johnson’s official statement following. – Ed.

Cover letter to NHUHSD Board by Dan Johnson

Dear Dr. Hartley, Mr. Lonn, and fellow board members,

I want to apologize for the awkward position I have put you all in over the past few weeks and thank you for your understanding.

Attached is a statement I felt I should make to the community clarifying my actions with regard to my graduation comments. It is intended to be public and you may share with any interested parties.  If requested I will also read it publicly at the next board meeting I am in attendance, which likely will not be until September.

I’m sorry it took me so long to address this. I was caught very much by surprise and have been dealing with some difficult family issues at the same time.

Thank you again for your understanding and I look forward to getting back to focusing on kids.

Dan Johnson

Public Statement by Dan Johnson

“I want to address an issue that has been made of my comments at the Arcata High graduation last month.

“As a sentimental dad who did not go to college myself, I just wanted to use my speaking opportunity to do something special for my daughter, who has graduated with a 4.04 GPA and is headed off to Santa Clara University.

“Like so many others, I was inspired by the 2012 Wellesley High School commencement speech of David McCollough Jr. [sic] It was a blunt, but ultimately inspiring, message to the graduates. My speech prep skills are lacking, and when I had heard the speech on the radio and liked the message, it gave me ideas for the speech I delivered at graduation.

“What I prepared to deliver at the graduation ceremony was a personalized version of McCollough’s [sic] message directed to my daughter. I thought all in attendance might appreciate it.

“My mistake, as community members, HSU professors and Arcata High faculty, much smarter than I, have informed me, was not simply crediting McCollough [sic] for his words and I’m sorry for that. I appreciate the constructive criticism and education I’ve received.

“I’m not an educator, journalist or author. I’m a just local businessman. I enjoy giving back to my community through Rotary, Casa, HSU athletics, non-profit board involvement, youth activities and service on this board, etc…

“The message I wanted to deliver is that I am proud of my daughter and want her to remember as McCullough spoke, ‘You’re not special, because EVERYONE is.’  And in my words, that ‘achievement is based on results, and results are what is most valued.’

“I understand that for some in our community – the self-appointed referees of good and evil – no explanation or apology I can offer is good enough. But I’m comfortable in the knowledge that their intolerance, so readily on display, is a far more profound flaw than mine.”

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62 Responses to “Dan Johnson’s Accusatory Apologia, With Cover Letter”

  1. Wendy Madsen Oh, there is a kid coningency out there who is not very happy with Mr. Johnson. Personally, I never had Mr. Johnson as a coach, but friends of mine have, and they are just as outraged and disappointed as I am. In fact, there were three of us outraged kids present and giving speeches at the board meeting this morning, which is three more people than were there supporting Mr. Johnson's actions. So yes Mr. Johnson calling people who expected more out of a school board member "intolerant" and "flawed" includes kids.

    #70042
  2. Yea, that last paragraph is a humdinger. I wonder who he stole it from? Did he write it to impress his daughter?

    Sign me "Someone with profound flaws".

    #70056
  3. Katherine Doelger-Ellis

    If I had gotten caught plagiarizing at my high school I would have failed the class, been suspend or expelled and possibly not allowed to graduate! Given Mr. Johnson's statement I do not think he is sorry for his actions. I thinknk he is and was smart enough to know what he was doing when he passed off that speech as his own!

    #70069
  4. Katherine Doelger-Ellis

    I also forgot to say in last post that I don't think by any means this incident negates the good Mr. Johnson has done or will continue to do for this community. However, there must be consequences for his behavior.

    #70070
  5. Cool, the only part of the graduation message that Dan actually put in his own words, "achievement is based on results and results are what is most valued," perfectly summarizes the awful worldview that lead him into this mess. Guess what? Results matter, but the integrity of the process is just as important. If you steal another person's work to obtain those results, you have achieved nothing.

    Dan is correct that for some in the community, no explanation is good enough. No explanation is good at all. No explanation is required or even relevant. Regardless of what caused the plagiarism, be it ignorance, conscious theft, or some kind of hilarious accident, it still happened publicly, and needs to be apologized for. That is where Dan has truly failed. No, the apology is not good enough, but it easily could have been. All that had to be said was, "misrepresenting someone else's words as my own was a big mistake, and I'm sorry it marred your graduation ceremony." (Preferably less than 6 weeks after the fact.) Even if Dan truly expected everyone to already be familiar with the speech and "appreciate it" as if it were an homage, the fact is, on that day, it came off as plagiarism. That's why people are angry. That's why it needed to be adressed.

    His comment in the cover letter that he'd like to get back to focusing on the kids is so terribly ironic. He doesn't care at all about the example he set for them back in June. Nothing in his statement indicates the slightest awareness of why plagiarism is actually wrong. It is the apology of a child.

    #70073
  6. Cool, the only part of the graduation message that Dan actually put in his own words, "achievement is based on results and results are what is most valued," perfectly summarizes the awful worldview that lead him into this mess. Guess what? Results matter, but the integrity of the process is just as important. If you steal another person's work to obtain those results, you have achieved nothing.

    Dan is correct that for some in the community, no explanation is good enough. No explanation is good at all. No explanation is required or even relevant. Regardless of what caused the plagiarism, be it ignorance, conscious theft, or some kind of hilarious accident, it still happened publicly, and needs to be apologized for. That is where Dan has truly failed. No, the apology is not good enough, but it easily could have been. All that had to be said was, "misrepresenting someone else's words as my own was a big mistake, and I'm sorry it marred your graduation ceremony." (Preferably less than 6 weeks after the fact.) Even if Dan truly expected everyone to already be familiar with the speech and "appreciate it" as if it were an homage, the fact is, on that day, it came off as plagiarism. That's why people are angry. That's why it needed to be adressed.

    His comment in the cover letter that he'd like to get back to focusing on the kids is so terribly ironic. He doesn't care at all about the example he set for them back in June. Nothing in his statement indicates the slightest awareness of why plagiarism is actually wrong. It is the apology of a child.

    #70074
  7. Tolerance is employed in regards to the differences we as people share. It is not intended to forgive immoral behavior. If you are apologizing and then offer excuses and blame your accusers, it's not much of an apology. If you are eating crow, just eat it.

    #70076
  8. […] President Mike Pigg called the meeting to order and read aloud Johnson’s statement, including a cover letter to […]

    #70102
  9. lol this isn't an apology this is just a guy talking bs.

    #70133
  10. […] a wealthy benefactor, and finally covered Johnson’s crappy and belated August 1st apology, pointing out said […]

    #70149
  11. […] at 6:20 p.m. on Monday, July 22, Johnson e-mailed his feisty statement to district staff and all four other trustees. In it, he offered a qualified apology but ended with […]

    #70383

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