OK kids! Go ahead and plagiarize – you won’t get in any trouble with the super.

Oh. My. Lord.

Just when you think things can’t get worse, they get worse — again.

The AJC is reporting that one of our executives, who was hired as a consultant to produce a [in our opinion, sophomoric] report on ‘Safe Schools’ and paid $10,000 for his hard ‘work’, then awarded a cake job as an Associate Superintendent – plagiarized a good deal of his report!

Ty Tagami reports:

DeKalb school official: “I am not a plagiarist”

An independent contractor who was paid $10,000 by the DeKalb County School District to analyze its alternative education program copied more than a third of his report from scholarly publications posted on the Internet, according to an examination by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and interviews with the authors of the original works.

The contractor, Ralph Taylor, said through a spokesman Wednesday that he’d made an “inexcusable mistake” in not attributing portions of his report and vowed to relinquish his fee. But, he said, “I am not a plagiarist, and plagiarism was not my intent.”

And then, as if it’s not sickening enough that this guy can’t write up a report on his own as simple as the one he produced, we have to be further insulted by our superintendent’s response:

School Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson said Taylor’s job is safe. “The infraction pertains to his work as a consultant, not as an employee,” she said through a spokesman.

Why the supportive response you say? Well, Ralph Taylor is an Atkinson ‘insider’ from North Carolina.  Pitiful.  As we reported December 12, 2011, “Ralph Taylor, the executive director of alternative education and safe schools at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in Charlotte, N.C., will become DeKalb’s associate superintendent for support services.”

Atkinson sure must ‘owe’ Taylor some kind of debt of gratitude – along the same lines as one of her other consultants [and reference on her resume], Barbara Dilligard, operating under the company name, Karaton Services Inc. Karaton (Barbara) was paid $79,000 for one of those ‘evaluation audits’ and then subsequently hired as a contractor for $99.925.98 in 2012 (squeaking under the recently enacted $100,000 limit necessary to ask for Board approval).

It must be so nice to have powerful friends. And they are all such wonderful examples for our young people!


*From the State website listing all contracts for the school system:


+ NOTE: The AJC article informs us that “When the audit was completed, the school board, acting on Atkinson’s recommendation, voted to hire Taylor as associate superintendent for support services. In that job, Taylor earns $117,461 a year and is responsible for monitoring student behavior, discipline and motivation.”

Download the ‘original’ report on Safe Schools at this link:

About dekalbschoolwatch

Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
This entry was posted in DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, DeKalb County, Georgia, Education in the South, Friends-and-Family, Georgia Education, Superintendent Cheryl Howell Atkinson, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

79 Responses to OK kids! Go ahead and plagiarize – you won’t get in any trouble with the super.

  1. Debby says:

    Yet another embarrassment, but not surprising–have you heard Dr. Taylor speak? It remains unclear as to what he really knows to be placed in such a critical role. It seemed apparent from the start that it was about WHO he knows….

  2. Embarrassed Employee says:

    When will this ever end……Atkinson has got to be fired.

  3. Retired DeKalb teacher says:

    Such an embarrassment to our school system. Everyday I wait to see what comes to light. If it weren’t so serious I would want to laugh. If someone made this up, it couldn’t be any worse. What must our students think..any and everything is OK. This has to be stopped!!

  4. AmyP says:

    Someone needs to attend English class and learn how to write a scholarly paper.

  5. Retired DeKalb teacher says:

    Can’t wait to hear Jeff Dickinson’s “take” on this new item. Did you see him on GEORGIA GANG this past Sunday? They discussed Ellis and then he jumped in to defend him and Crawford Lewis. Wish they would remove him from the panel.

  6. thedeal2 says:

    Yes, let’s definitely give this group of criminals another 6 months to get their act together… or steal a few more hundred thousand dollars. Exterminate all of them!

  7. whyaminotsurprised says:

    Sigh, I wish I were technologically advanced enough to paste a short video (.gif) of someone banging their head into a wall.

    I really do try to be respectful. I do. There are some days it is harder than others. This is one of those days.

  8. murphey says:

    Students are held to higher standards all the time. Mr. Taylor’s response was pitiful and unprofessional. He should make a real apology, which means no excuses, and return the $10,000.

    Plagiarism relates to ethics and integrity. For Dr. Atkinson to say that Mr. Taylor’s behavior as a contractor is separate from his behavior as an employee is beyond belief.

    Retired DeKalb teacher is right – you just can’t make this stuff up!

    Hey, maybe DCSD could earn some $$ by being the subject of a reality TV show.

  9. no name says:

    Two questions:

    (I) Were the checks used to pay out the $99,925.98 and $10,000.00 drawn on state or federal funds?

    (II) Could a local police department in Dekalb request a GBI investigation on this? It seems pretty obvious that the guy defrauded the government that paid for the “audit”; I’m just not sure if it was the county, the state or the federal government that actually funded the “audit”.

  10. waitaminit 1 says:

    good research–transparency is a bee–ach.

  11. JaShard from McNair says:

    So if I understand correctly incompetence is considered a virtue in the DCSD. Wow.
    I sure hope the Governor does the right thing.

  12. Kim says:

    If you read their comments closely, they describe the conduct as an oversight in not properly citing the works. For what they lack in ethical standards they surely make up for in rationalizations. Reminds me of a Groucho Marx line, “I wasn’t kissing her. I was whispering in her mouth.”

    As an aside, Taylor was reported to offer to return the fees as I read it. Why would he offer to do that if it was an innocent “oversight?”

  13. Weary worker says:

    Please Mr. Deal take over this mess.

  14. Teachingmom says:

    Yes, he defrauded the government. Let me count the ways that this just confirms that our not so super super is even MORE of the same for Dekalb. Friends and family are once again robbing our county blind and giving us fake professionals in return. I have to question Atkinson’s judgement at the very least, if not her intelligence. Seriously. These are grave ethics violations that can not be swept under the rug anymore. I read the actual quotes that were copied at the bottom of Ty’s article. This is blatant plagiarism, fire the bum and get him off of our payroll, not another of nickel of MY tax dollars should go to him. SACS, State BOE, and all of you watchdogs, please, do your job.

  15. dekalbite2 says:

    From the AJC:
    “Plagiarism is a violation of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission code of ethics. It can result in suspension or revocation of certification, said John Grant, the chief investigator there. “The commission has considered plagiarism in the past and has issued serious sanctions.””

    So will Dr. Atkinson refer him to the Georgia Professional Standars Commission? Can Internal Affairs investigate and prosecute teachers for ethics violations but not the superintendent’s appointees?

    Look at this from the AJC:
    “Excerpts from the DeKalb County audit and the original papers, typographical errors included.

    This purpose of this paper is to synthesize existing knowledge, definitions, and themes about alternative education programs, based on a review of literature and reports.
    – From “Towards a Typology of Alternative Education Programs: A Compilation of Elements from the Literature, by Laudan Y. Aron
    The purpose of this overview is to synthesize existing knowledge, definitions, and themes about alternative education programs based on a review of literature and reports.
    – From “Safe School Alternative Program Audit” for DeKalb County, by Ralph Taylor

    Clearly, school districts must reexamine the use of exclusionary discipline policies and consider alternative disciplinary practices if disproportionality is to be reduced. Alternative practices that have proven effective largely focus on primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of prevention (Osher, Woodruff, & Sims, 2001; Rutherford, Quinn, Leone, Garfinkle, & Nelson, 2002).
    – From “Racial Disproportionality in School Disciplinary Practices,” by William Drakeford
    Cleary, school districts must reexamine the use of exclusionary discipline polices and consider alternative disciplinary practices if disproportionality is to be reduced. Alternative practices that have proven effective largely focus on primary, secondary, and tertiary (of the third order) levels of prevention (Osher, Woodruff, & Sims, 2001; Rutherford, Quinn, Leone, Garfinkle, & Nelson, 2002).
    – From “Safe School Alternative Program Audit” for DeKalb County, by Ralph Taylor”

    Why is Dr. Atkinson not letting the Professional Standards Commission decide on this?

  16. dekalbite2 says:

    The $59,590.11 quoted salary refers to a PARTIAL year of work in 2012 since he was not working the entire year.

    Look at what DEPUTY/ASSOC/ASSISTANT SUPT make in DeKalb. The other two salaries well under $100,000 are DEPUTY/ASSOC/ASSISTANT SUPTs that retired and therefore only worked part of the year during 2012.

  17. Teachers – I know you have software programs that check for plagiarism in your students’ work. Is it worse that he went to the trouble to change a small word here and there? Wouldn’t that show that he KNEW he was plagiarizing – not ‘accidentally’ ‘forgetting’ to add credits. What kind of repercussions would a student meet with if they copied text as did Taylor? What kind of grade would you give this ‘paper’? I mean, we can start with the fact that the paper has no title, no author and no date! Copy. Paste. Print. Send Invoice.

  18. Taylor’s 15-page document — the school district calls it an “audit” — has been posted on the district website for months. It includes six pages with similar — in many passages, identical — prose to that in a report from the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., and a paper from William Drakeford, an assistant professor at Bowie State University in Maryland.

    “I’m just astonished that somebody would do something like that,” Drakeford said when told of the similarities to a 2004 paper he wrote about race and school discipline. He said he was paid nothing for his work. When told how much Taylor got, Drakeford whistled softly.

    “Wow,” he said. “This person’s in trouble.”

    Um. That would be a “no”. He’s not in trouble whatsoever. I don’t even think he’s ashamed.

  19. You are exactly right, DeKalbite2. My research … ahem, The AJC article tells us,

    When the audit was completed, the school board, acting on Atkinson’s recommendation, voted to hire Taylor as associate superintendent for support services. In that job, Taylor earns $117,461 a year and is responsible for monitoring student behavior, discipline and motivation.

  20. But wait! There’s more! [Ty, forgive us for posting so many parts of your article – it’s just so damn shocking!]

    Neither Taylor nor Atkinson would make themselves available for an interview, and Atkinson did not answer several questions submitted in writing.

    A written statement provided by school district spokesman Jeff Dickerson on Taylor’s behalf said: “I made an inexcusable mistake in failing to attribute portions of a report I wrote for the DeKalb County School District.”

    Taylor went on to say plagiarism was not his intent. “It is not tolerated among our students and staff, and cannot be tolerated by consultants.” He apologized “for any embarrassment” he may have caused DeKalb.

    [Ironic that he is sharing the newsroom with Lance Armstrong this week.]

  21. dekalbite2 says:

    There is a DeKalb County Board of Education “Internet Safety and Acceptable Use Policy”. Is this a breech of Board policy? Internet Safety and Acceptable Use Policy applies to staff and students and everyone must sign that they understand Board policy with respect to use of the Internet.

    “The Internet provided by the Board is an instructional research and educational business tool for students and staff and shall not be used for private, personal use. Students and staff are responsible for appropriate behavior while using the Internet. All users must sign the Internet Acceptable Use Policy.”

    “All users should be careful to not violate copyright laws. ”

    “Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement

    “Users will not plagiarize works that they find on the Internet. Plagiarism is taking the ideas or writings of others and presenting them as if they were original to the user. Teachers, librarians, etc., will instruct students in appropriate research and citation practices.

    Users will respect the rights of copyright owners. Because the extent of copyright protection of certain works found on the Internet is unclear, employees will make a standard practice of requesting permission from the holder of the work if their use of the material has the potential of being considered an infringement unless the article states it is public domain.”


  22. dekalbite2 says:

    Oops! Should have read:
    Is this a breach of Board policy?

  23. Bye bye says:

    That is a different DeKalb County. Not from us. Any former or current teachers who can remember if plagiarism was in the old code of conduct. it is not in the current code of conduct

  24. Teachingmom says:

    Plageriarism is a violation of copyright law, regardless of school policy.

  25. Teachingmom says:

    Too mad to spell apparently: plagiarism…

  26. dekalbite2 says:

    @Bye bye
    “That is a different DeKalb County…….it is not in the current code of conduct”

    You are right – that was the wrong DeKalb. My bad. However, adhering to copyright laws are still part of BOE policy. After searching a bit, here is the DeKalb County School System (Georgia) Internet Acceptable Use policy. Adhering to copyright laws is mentioned numerous times in this Board policy document.
    DeKalb County School District Acceptable Use Policy

    For example,
    “The DeKalb County School System provides computers, networks, and Internet access to support the educational mission of the school system and to enhance the curriculum and learning opportunities for students and school system staff. ”
    ……..”1. Any use that is illegal or in violation of other Board of Education policies, including harassing, discriminatory, or threatening communications and behavior; violations of copyright laws, etc.;….. ”
    ………”Transmission of any material in violation of any United States or state regulation is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, copyrighted material…….”
    ……”The DeKalb County School System reserves the right to examine all data stored on workstations, servers, and storage devices within the WAN, LAN or school-wide networks, i.e. Intranet, to ensure that all users are in compliance with copyright, security and DeKalb County School System policies and procedures. ”
    ………”Users will not transmit or download information or software in violation of copyright laws.”…..
    ……”A copyright policy should be posted in any room where a computer is located. ”
    …..”Electronic transmissions, uploading and downloading materials are all forms of copying. As specified in this Technology Use policy as well as Copyright and other Intellectual Property Laws, no unlawful copies of copyrighted materials may be knowingly reproduced, transmitted, or stored on or using DeKalb County School District?s web servers.”
    DeKalb County School District respects the intellectual property of others. If you believe that your work has been copied in a way that constitutes copyright infringement, please follow the instructions provided under Contact Information and provide DeKalb County School District’s Communications Officer with the written information specified:
    (i) an electronic or physical signature of the person authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner;
    (ii) a description of the copyrighted work allegedly infringed upon;
    (iii) a description of where the alleged infringing material is located on the DeKalb County School District web site; (iv) your e-mail and postal address, as well as your telephone number;
    (v) a statement by you that you have a good-faith belief that the use of the alleged infringing material is unauthorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law; and (vi) a statement by you, made under penalty of perjury, that the above information in your notice is accurate and that you are either the copyright owner or authorized to act on the copyright owner’s behalf. ”

    So infringement of copyright laws appears to be against Board policy.

  27. educator90 says:

    If he is ahead of a department I presume that he has a PhD. Can’t help but wonder if his dissertation is his own work.

    This is why the state needs to take over. Both should lose their job for this. Him for being a liar and her for wanting to keep him and do nothing.

  28. Embarrassed Employee says:

    Everyone in the palace needs to be fired and rehired (or not) based upon TRUE qualifications and skills. There is no need for a bookkeeper to have a PHD and we aren’t paying for degrees you earned while at work. The culture of DeKalb is all about social aspirations. The salaries need to be right sized. Annnnnnnd for the love of justice please let Tyson go….we can not afford her.

  29. howdy1942 says:

    Plagiarism is defined as:

    “an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author”

    The facts of this case are that this Ralph Taylor copied at least one third of his report from articles on the Internet and did not cite any of his sources. He presented his work as his own. That, sir, is plagiarism. You got caught! This is a very simple matter. Count the total number of words in your report, count the words that are identical in context and content identical to that of other works, check the citations, and make a conclusion. Again, this is not rocket science.

    Atkinson needs to do her homework and get to the bottom of this case. If the allegations are true, then he violated Georgia Law and he cannot be retained in his position. If Atkinson cannot or will not terminate him, then the Board needs to terminate her – for cause!

  30. Weary worker says:

    I feel this is widespread. I have a bit of mistrust regarding the quality and validity of many of the dissertations administrators may have written to get their advanced degrees. The papers are available for a price from the online universities. A close inspection could open up a big can of worms for the administrators and for the online colleges who dispense the degrees.

  31. teachermom says:

    I wonder how long I would last if a third party found that I plagiarized several parts of my Master’s thesis (from a real university BTW) and then it was reported in the press? I’m pretty sure the headline would read “Super says Dekalb County does not tolerate plagiarism, teacher fired.” Wake up Atkinson, you nor your friends are above the law. I want our 117k back, too. FIre him and then resign, you are done.

  32. Interesting about Tyson: the 2012 salary report shows that she made more than Atkinson! Those two combined are costing taxpayers a half million dollars in salary alone!

  33. Dekalbschoolwatch says:

    What I don’t understand is why, when she was first given this “report” as the product of his contract, didn’t Dr Atkinson hand it back and say, this is not worth $10,000. It’s only 15 pages! And it’s in a very large font with huge margins. If input into a standard format it would probably only add up to fewer than 10 pages.

  34. John Dewey III says:

    This is a major scandal. DeKalb teachers who actually DO research and teach students how to actually DO research are reeling from this latest episode……..

  35. And … Things apparently will never change. For far too long we have been fed the excuse that that was then, this is now. Going forward things will be better. Now it seems we’ve advanced to “well, that was his performance as a consultant, he will be better as an employee….”. Buying time, always buying time. Never improving, just buying time and collecting paychecks.

  36. TIME2REPORT says:

    The FEDS need to step in…everyone should contact the FEDERAL board of education, it’s PAST time to just get this out of Georgia…

  37. waitaminit 1 says:

    This is NOT a major scandal… “Copy-gate” is distracting and certainly not worth the two pages in the newspaper. Lets get back to business.

  38. plusone says:

    So even if the board is fired, we still have a larger problem which is Atkinson and her crew. How do we fix that problem? There are employees othat have n o clue on whats going on td
    day….that is sad….its not going to get better until we expect better.

  39. waitaminit 1 says:

    The Feds need to step in because of “Copy-gate”?

  40. @waitaminute — I beg to differ. The fact that our super paid $10k to a friend for sloppy work that we find out was mostly stolen, is a very big deal. Add to that, she is willing to overlook this outrage is beyond a concern about her character. She obviously is not up to the task of being a school superintendent.

Comments are closed.