Rochester Public Schools Superintendent Michael Muñoz is facing new allegations of plagiarism, two months after he apologized — and had his pay docked — for plagiarizing most of his Thanksgiving message to school staff.
After Muñoz's apology and the school board's vote to suspend him for five days, a parent in the district found other possible examples of plagiarism.
The parent shared the findings with local media organizations: Significant sections of graduation speeches Muñoz delivered in 2019 and 2020, as well as an April letter to students and families about COVID-19, appear to include multiple passages lifted from letters and speeches written by other educators around the country. Meanwhile, a tweet Muñoz posted in September about his visits to elementary classrooms during the pandemic matches, almost word for word, a tweet posted two weeks earlier by a high school principal in Alabama.
The parent declined to be identified, citing concerns about retribution against her children, who are students in the district. Rochester schools spokeswoman Heather Nessler said the school board is aware of the additional plagiarism allegations, "takes these allegations very seriously and will review them promptly."
She said neither district officials nor board members could comment further on the matter. The board's next regular meeting is Feb. 2.
Nessler said Muñoz has already taken a salary reduction equivalent to five days of pay on his $228,300 annual salary related to the earlier plagiarism accusations, but that the superintendent continued working while his pay was suspended. The district is still working through a second approved disciplinary action on that matter: a "public restorative practices plan" to be developed by Muñoz and two board members.
At the Dec. 8 meeting when the board voted to discipline Muñoz for plagiarizing his Thanksgiving letter, Board Member Cathy Nathan read a statement that said Muñoz's actions had an impact on the community, staff members and the entire Rochester educational system.
"In adopting this motion, the board is stating that Superintendent Munoz's behavior in plagiarizing material was serious, unacceptable and cannot happen again," she said.
Erin Golden • 612-673-4790