I ran into AJC education reporter Ty Tagami at the elevator this morning and told him how surprised I was that DeKalb school administrator Ralph Taylor had yet to resign after it was revealed that Taylor plagiarized parts of a report for which DeKalb Schools paid him $10,000. (Following up on a tip, Tagami broke the story in the AJC earlier this month.)
To me, Taylor represented a serious liability for DeKalb school chief Cheryl Atkinson, who is already on shaky ground with her school board. (And, of course, the board itself is on shaky ground, which is why DeKalb is teetering on the brink of collapse.)
Now, a few hours later, Tagami is reporting that Taylor has resigned his $117,461-a-year associate superintendent job.
Tagami writes, “… district spokeswoman Lillian Govus said Taylor had resigned. She said Taylor received no severance package. She also said she understood that Taylor was to repay the $10,000 immediately, though she couldn’t confirm that he had, indeed, done it.
It was unclear to me why Atkinson would have risked her reputation for Taylor even with their long professional association. At some point, you have to let people suffer the consequences of their dumb mistakes.
After Tagami discovered that Taylor copied more than a third of his report from publications accessible via the Internet, Atkinson offered a bewildering rationale for not firing him. “The infraction pertains to his work as a consultant, not as an employee,” she told the AJC through her spokesman.
While Atkinson was surprisingly understated about Taylor’s ethical breach, her bosses were not. DeKalb board Chair Eugene Walker said, “You can’t prohibit a student from plagiarizing and then permit some staff person to do it.”
Taylor was hired by DeKalb to produce an analysis of its alternative education program in 2011, then offered a job as an associate superintendent in DeKalb shortly after finishing it, according to the AJC.
Tagami discovered that Taylor copied more than a third of his report from publications accessible via the Internet.
Taylor did the right thing in resigning. Of course, whether he had a choice is another matter. I’m not sure that Atkinson has the social capital with the board or the DeKalb community to save Taylor’s job.
The question may be whether she has enough to save her own.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog