The superintendent of Rochester Public Schools has apologized after sending a Thanksgiving message to his staff that included passages plagiarized from multiple sources.
Michael Muñoz, who has led the district since 2011, sent the e-mail to the district's entire staff on Nov. 25. In it, he expressed thanks for the staff's hard work and flexibility during the first months of the school year and praised the work of teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and school psychologists, among others.
He also appears to have plagiarized much of the text in seven of the letter's eight paragraphs. Some staff members took note of the message's odd formatting, with some of the paragraphs in different sizes and fonts. A reporter with MedCity Beat, the Rochester news organization that first reported on the note, found that Muñoz had lifted sentences or full paragraphs from five sources, including letters written by the superintendents of school districts in Albany, N.Y., and Los Angeles, and an elementary principal in Orosi, Calif.
In a Nov. 30 e-mail to district staff, Muñoz acknowledged he had plagiarized his note and apologized for his "bad choice."
"I know by doing this I have damaged your respect and trust in me," he wrote. "I know this behavior is not acceptable and minimizes my intent to tell you that I understand that last Spring and this school year have been very challenging for all of you and let you know that I truly do appreciate everything that all of you are doing to meet the needs of all our students and families and supporting each other."
Asked for comment by the Star Tribune, Muñoz said, through a district spokeswoman: "I humbly take full responsibility for my own error in judgment. I took a short cut, and I know it was wrong."
Deborah Seelinger, chairwoman of the Rochester school board, said she had seen both letters and that the board had not taken any action on the matter. She declined to comment further.
The Rochester Public Schools student handbook includes plagiarism among a list of "unacceptable behaviors that may be subject to disciplinary action."