School Board Candidate Responds to Plagiarism Allegation

Sunday, October 9, 2016, 8:34 pm
By: 
Alice Dreger

An East Lansing School Board member has accused Board candidate Kyle Guerrant of plagiarism and Guerrant has provided ELi his response.

The issue relates to an application for an opening on the Board created last year by the resignation of Nathanial Lake, Jr. After Lake resigned and the call went out by the Board for applications to fill the vacant seat, six individuals, including Guerrant, applied in writing to be considered. Guerrant was not chosen for the seat; Erin Graham, who is now also running for election, was.

Some of the written responses from Guerrant to the Board last year appear to be drawn from online material written by other individuals without credit to the original sources. One example:

  • Guerrant: “First and foremost school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school board’s agenda—it is the only item. School boards are accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.”
  • The Center for Public Education: “First and foremost school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school board’s agenda—it is the only item…. School boards are accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.

 

Another example:

  • Guerrant: “A school board is able to fulfill its mission when the members of the board and the superintendent understand their roles and work together in an environment of trust, mutual respect, understanding and shared purpose.”
  • Michigan Association of School Boards: “A school board is able to fulfill its mission when the members of the board and the superintendent understand their roles and work together in an environment of trust, mutual respect, understanding and shared purpose.”

 

A third example:

  • Guerrant: “[Board members must] Ensure that commitments and directives are in the best interest of the entire board and district” and “Create an environment that discourages micromanagement or undermining of the superintendent.”
  • Michigan Association of School Boards: “[Board members must] Ensure that commitments and directives are in the best interest of the entire board and district and not the individual board member” and “Create an environment that discourages micromanagement or undermining of the superintendent.”

 

A sitting East Lansing School Board member brought this to my attention but made clear she did not wish to be named as the source. In response, I checked Guerrant's responses against other online material, and then sent Guerrant, who is currently Deputy Superintendent of Administrative Services at the Michigan Department of Education, a message asking him to respond to the allegation. His complete response, received yesterday, is as follows:

"I work with school board members every day, and have sat on numerous boards. I live and breathe most of these materials daily; the concepts outlined in my answers are foundational to being a good board member, and looking back perhaps I should have attributed the information more directly to the programs with which I interact. We are in the midst of a contested school board election, it should be obvious to everyone why these allegations are coming to light a few weeks before the election. I am not going to respond to allegations posed anonymously by a current school board member. East Lansing voters are tired of this corrosive leadership. I am going to continue focusing on the educational issues this community cares about and ignore those who want to get into slinging mud this election season. The current board majority has failed us so many times and our students and community deserves better than that."

For information on the Board of Education election, including ELi’s ongoing coverage of it, please click here.