PBC schools may officially ban plagiarism for teachers, administrators

West Boca High Principal Mark Stenner giving is 2015 graduation speech.

West Boca High Principal Mark Stenner giving his 2015 graduation speech.

More than a year after West Boca High Principal Mark Stenner was caught passing off famous commencement speeches as his own, Palm Beach County’s public school system is proposing an official ban on plagiarism for teachers, administrators and other employees.

Though students have long been prohibited from plagiarizing school work, the school district has never specifically banned its employees from the practice.

That disparity drew lots of attention after Stenner was caught in June 2015. He was eventually removed from the school and reassigned to an administrative job in the school district’s headquarters.

Though an investigation faulted him for several violations of the school district’s ethics code – chiefly involving policies about integrity and impropriety – it was observed at the time that the school district didn’t explicitly ban plagiarism.

That would change under a proposal the school board is scheduled to discuss Wednesday.

The proposal includes several updates to the district’s ethics code, including one that bans “knowingly taking responsibility and credit for work performed or produced by others; or failing to acknowledge the work and contributions made by others, including any acts of plagiarism.”

The school board is scheduled to discuss the changes at a workshop Wednesday but will not take a vote on them.

Also among the proposed additions: a ban on “excessive or unnecessary physical interaction with a student, including horseplay;” and a prohibition against making “malicious or intentionally false statements about a colleague.”

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