NHUHSD Board To Hear Johnson’s Explanation

Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Dan Johnson reading Wellesley High School English teacher David McCullough, Jr.'s “You Are Not Special” speech as though it was a letter he had written to his daughter at the 2013 Arcata High School Commencement Ceremony. Submitted photo

Dan Johnson reading Wellesley High School English teacher David McCullough, Jr.’s “You Are Not Special” speech as though it was a letter he had written to his daughter at the 2013 Arcata High School Commencement Ceremony. Submitted photo

Eye Staff Report

ARCATA – Nearly six weeks after NHUHSD Boardmember Dan Johnson gave a commencement speech apparently cribbed from another source, the Northern Humboldt Union High School Governing Board has called a special meeting to consider the matter.

The board will meet this Friday, July 26 in the Arcata High Multipurpose Room to mull a “Possible response to public concern regarding the 2013 Arcata High School graduation ceremony and accept Board member Dan Johnson’s statement to community.”

Update: the following closed session item has been added to an amended agenda: “[X] PUBLIC EMPLOYEE DISCIPLINE/DISMISSAL/RELEASE .”

Johnson described his June 13 Arcata High School address as a personal letter to his daughter. Large portions of it appear to have been lifted from a Wellesley High School, Massachusetts commencement speech given in 2012 by teacher David McCullough, Jr. Titled “You Are Not Special,” the speech made a national stir.

The NHUHSD board has referred all comment to Johnson, who has not returned requests for an explanation. The board’s inaction and Johnson’s silence have led to calls for resignation by him and other boardmembers.

The Governing board’s amended agenda:

 NORTHERN HUMBOLDT UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT GOVERNING BOARD 

SPECIAL BOARD MEETING 

Friday, July 26, 2013 

Arcata High School Multi-Purpose Room 

9:00 a.m. 

AMENDED AGENDA 

1.0 OPEN SESSION 

1.1 Call to Order

1.2 Flag Salute

1.3 Roll Call

 

2.0 PUBLIC COMMENTS 

2.1 District Employees 

Individuals speaking on matters not listed on the agenda are asked to step forward to the lectern and state clearly their name and address.

2.2 Non-Agenda Items 

Members of the public may comment on non-agenda matters. No action may be taken on topics not listed on the agenda.

2.3 Agenda Items 

Individuals will have an opportunity to speak on items on the agenda during Board discussion on that item. Individual speakers shall be allowed three minutes to address the Board on each agenda or non-agenda item. The Board shall limit the total time for public input on each item to twenty minutes.

3.0 ACTION ITEMS 

3.1 Possible response to public concern regarding the 2013 Arcata High School graduation ceremony and receive Board member Dan Johnson’s statement to community

4.0 PUBLIC COMMENTS 

5.0 ADJOURNMENT TO CLOSED SESSION 

[X] CONFERENCE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATOR 

[X] PUBLIC EMPLOYEE DISCIPLINE/DISMISSAL/RELEASE 

6.0 RECONVENE TO OPEN SESSION 

7.0 ADJOURNMENT 

NOTICE: Any writing, not exempt from public disclosure under Government Code Section 6253.5, 6254, 6254.3, 6254.7, 6254.15, 6254.16, or 6254.22, which is distributed to all or a majority of the members of the governing board by any person in connection with a matter subject to discussion or consideration at an open meeting of the board is available for public inspection at the Arcata High School and McKinleyville High School Library or the District Office. Please call Tammy Pires. Superintendent’s Secretary at (707) 839-6481 if you have any questions.

In compliance with Government Code section 54954.2(a) Northern Humboldt Union High School District will, on request make agendas available in appropriate alternative formats to persons with a disability, as required by Section 202 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12132), and the federal rules and regulations adopted in implementation thereof. Individuals who need this agenda in an alternative format or who need a disability-related modification or accommodation in order to participate in the meeting should contact, Tammy Pires, Superintendent’s Secretary at (707) 839-6481.

The governing board’s original agenda:

 

 NORTHERN HUMBOLDT UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT GOVERNING BOARD 

SPECIAL BOARD MEETING 

Friday, July 26, 2013 

Arcata High School Multi-Purpose Room 

9:00 a.m. 

AGENDA 

1.0 OPEN SESSION 

1.1 Call to Order

1.2 Flag Salute

1.3 Roll Call

 

2.0 PUBLIC COMMENTS 

2.1 District Employees 

Individuals speaking on matters not listed on the agenda are asked to step forward to the lectern and state clearly their name and address.

2.2 Non-Agenda Items 

Members of the public may comment on non-agenda matters. No action may be taken on topics not listed on the agenda.

2.3 Agenda Items 

Individuals will have an opportunity to speak on items on the agenda during Board discussion on that item. Individual speakers shall be allowed three minutes to address the Board on each agenda or non-agenda item. The Board shall limit the total time for public input on each item to twenty minutes.

3.0 ACTION ITEMS 

3.1 Possible response to public concern regarding the 2013 Arcata High School graduation ceremony and accept Board member Dan Johnson’s statement to community

4.0 PUBLIC COMMENTS 

5.0 ADJOURNMENT TO CLOSED SESSION 

[X] CONFERENCE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATOR 

6.0 RECONVENE TO OPEN SESSION 

7.0 ADJOURNMENT 

NOTICE: Any writing, not exempt from public disclosure under Government Code Section 6253.5, 6254, 6254.3, 6254.7, 6254.15, 6254.16, or 6254.22, which is distributed to all or a majority of the members of the governing board by any person in connection with a matter subject to discussion or consideration at an open meeting of the board is available for public inspection at the Arcata High School and McKinleyville High School Library or the District Office. Please call Tammy Pires. Superintendent’s Secretary at (707) 839-6481 if you have any questions.

In compliance with Government Code section 54954.2(a) Northern Humboldt Union High School District will, on request make agendas available in appropriate alternative formats to persons with a disability, as required by Section 202 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12132), and the federal rules and regulations adopted in implementation thereof. Individuals who need this agenda in an alternative format or who need a disability-related modification or accommodation in order to participate in the meeting should contact, Tammy Pires, Superintendent’s Secretary at (707) 839-6481.

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22 Responses to “NHUHSD Board To Hear Johnson’s Explanation”

  1. Jan Olsen-Carr

    I am the parent of four students in this district. In my opinion, Mr. Johnson should resign. I am pleased to hear the Board is FINALLY addressing this issue.

    #69925
  2. Jean Durbin

    One wonders if there hadn't been the hue & cry that there has been, would this have happened? And, how can Johnson's egregious error be 'explained'??

    #69926
  3. So for those of us with these crazy things called jobs, is there a way to get letters/emails to the board for public comment?

    No kids yet here, but I'm still in the position to hire kids schooled here, I pay property taxes here… And who knows. May have kids someday. :o

    #69928
  4. You still have time to file for office and get elected to this board, Josh.

    #69929
  5. Isaac Cash

    You get thrown out of college for plagiarism!

    #69930
  6. Isaac Cash

    Here is the test my professor at Saddleback College required my class to take after several students were guilty of plagiarism. Maybe he should take it before he is allowed to return to work! He may have to do it several times before he gets it right. https://www.indiana.edu/~istd/plagiarism_test.html

    #69931
  7. Charles – never. I'm unelectable. I work too much to do a door to door, my core beliefs mean I won't alter key positions to win Arcata, and I'm really not good at lying. :p

    My time is better off making money and jobs in the private sector. I'm way better at that. ;)

    #69932
  8. Also I swear. A fucking lot.

    #69933
  9. I don't think most of the members of the NHUSD knocked on a majority of doors across both Arcata and McKinleyville to get elected — it's a low-turnout election, with GOTV being the biggest deciding factor.

    #69934
  10. Charles Douglas – GOTY = Game of the Year in my world. :P

    Besides, I'm not the best influence for the school board. I refused to do calculus homework my junior year in HS cause I told my teacher I could just learn it by reading it, and besides, I had better things to do with my time. Ended up getting a D in his class cause I never turned in homework.

    I set the curve for the final exam. 107%. Also, aced the AP Test. College credit for me. Ouch.

    Blame my parents for homeschooling me for 3 years. They taught me how to teach myself.

    #69935
  11. Ian Ray

    Just run for city council again or at least have another campaign party like you are about to.

    #69936
  12. I am the grandparent of three children in this district. I plan to attend this meeting. This Board needs to be accountable for the actions of the whole to the public.

    #69943
  13. Wendy Madsen

    In regard to this issue, I completely understand the severity of this issue and the importance of plagiarism and need for proper citation in today's world. If Mr. Johnson had simply cited his work, there would not be an issue at all. However, let me point out to everyone involved that Mr. Johnson is, first and foremost, a parent. His children and family come first in his life and I know, from personal experience that he would never deliberately do anything that would bring shame and embarrassment upon his family or community. Mr. Johnson is extremely community service oriented, a Rotarian for more than a decade, he continuously serves his community through fund raising and hands on activities. His only fault is being ignorant of the standards of citing published works. Let's look past this, consider it a learning experience and realize that no one is perfect. Please understand; Mr. Johnson has a great passion for his family and community, do not condemn him for an academic mistake, there are far worse problems to be given attention. Mr. Johnson is a valuable asset to the community in many more important ways than through academia. He is an outstanding role model, mentor and provider. Embrace him!

    #69965
  14. I was at the graduation and recognized the speech, and wondered what he was thinking. If you were a student and did something like this on an assignment you would get an "F". I can understand that he does many good things for the community and has a family of his own. I just have a bit of a concern that a School board member would use someone else's words as his own, when if a student did that there would be a consequence. I don't know Mr. Johnson personally, and am sure he is an asset to the community in many ways, but I think his explanation is important for the graduating students. They need to know that when they are continuing on in their studies, that that is not acceptable. It could cause serious consequences to their future education.

    #69992
  15. Based on what I've read from both the Time Standard and Arcata Eye, I can certainly understand where concern or misunderstanding might arise on this issue. I do not have firsthand knowledge of the incident and therefore cannot speak to context or actual dialogue, nor would it be appropriate for me to make any assumptions on any "side". For instance, one could assume that because the original letter was so widely part of the general culture, no reference was necessary, à la most late night talk show hosts who "play" off of quotes/writings every night without references made…or on the other side, to assume that Mr. Johnson meant to take credit for the original text in an attempt to intentionally deceive his audience. Assumptions do not lead to understanding or positive problem solving. Although I no longer live in Arcata, I remember life, community, and school there as being based in inquiry, optimism, diverse perspective, care, genuineness, flexibility, and idealism. It is my hope that tomorrow's meeting will be conducted with suppressed egos and mutual respect in an attempt to right wrongs (both in terms of conduct and relationship), clarify information, and strengthen community for the future. For Arcata to settle for finger-pointing would be the easy way out, and not the community I always brag about when telling others about the magic of growing up in Humboldt County.

    #69998
  16. Really people, leave the pitchforks and torches at home.

    #70000
  17. Marci Pigg

    Josh Mohland

    #70005
  18. Marci Pigg

    My husband works hard, is good at making money, doesn't swear alot, and finds time to to be a school board member along with being a great dad and husband. It's very difficult to read remarks from people who do not and will not take the time to represent their community.

    #70006
  19. Paul J Nicklas

    Dan J's mistake shrinks as the "smallness" of the public escalation and intolerance is exposed. Exposed to him in a business transaction which required the highest level of integrity, I have found him to be a person of the highest calibre. Those throwing stones are losing credibility with me.

    #70012
  20. Wendy Madsen

    Jackie Musselman I agree with you Jackie. I do believe that School Board members should be held to a certain standard and that plagiarism is a serious issue. However, knowing Dan for many years, I 100% believe that he was not aware of the need for citation. I know that seems odd, but I know it is true. I know that Dan was simply relaying what he believed to be a heartfelt speech. I do not believe there was any intended deception. In addition, Dan Johnson brings tremendous value to the School Board with his life experience and passion for education. Did he make a mistake? Absolutely. Was it deliberate? Absolutely not. I believe his apology letter was sincere and clearly stated his ignorance. I'm hoping this issue will be put to rest soon!

    #70013
  21. Wendy Madsen

    Julie Bills Excellent point Julie! So many fingers pointing in a negative direction. It's time for someone to point out Dan Johnson's many attributes and the value he brings to the School Board.

    #70014
  22. It sounds like a witch hunt.

    #70015

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