Speeches to be reviewed after plagiarism at midstate high school

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 13, 2014 3:40 AM

(New Holland) -- A principal at a Lancaster County high school is serving a 10-day unpaid suspension for plagiarizing the late author David Foster Wallace, and policy changes are coming.

The most tangible one? 

Major speeches will be run through a software program meant to detect whether its a copy of past talks.

"What we will do is scrub our speeches, with that software package, and there's a variety of them out there, whereby they do some checking for you to see if what you're saying either because you pulled it from another person or inadvertantly came along with similar thinking, and it matches up to something that someone else said," says Eastern Lancaster County School District Superintendent Robert Hollister.

But there's also heightened awareness among teachers and administrators after Garden Spot High School Principal Matt Sanger used much of Wallace's speech in last week's graduation.

Hollister says at a recent internal staff presentation, a teacher was overly cautious with citing sources.

Teachers and administrators must keep in mind the lessons they offer in the classroom, Hollister adds.

"It's incumbent upon leadership to continue to remind folks about that, both the adults and the students. We are an academic institution. It's why the failure was so big in terms of judgment."

Some community members are unhappy with what they see as leniency by the district, but Hollister says Sanger is highly-thought of in the community, and has recognized the mistake he made.

An explanation Sanger offered on the district’s website was removed earlier this week.

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