By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • The News-Journal took down, and then replaced a school board candidate’s question-and-answer responses on the newspaper’s website after a reader alerted staff to potential plagiarism in the responses that ran in last week’s printed edition of the paper.
The answers Dr. Deltarina Carr submitted for the Q&A contained multiple paragraphs of writing taken from other authors, and campaign planks taken from another political candidate’s campaign, without attribution to the original sources.
Some sections of the text were taken word-for-word from online articles. Other sections included slightly altered or rewritten text.
When Carr submitted the responses to The News-Journal she did not say that some of the writing was not her own. The News-Journal published the candidates’ Q&A in the October 15 issue of the newspaper, and online at www.hokenews.com.
A reader alerted News-Journal staff to the matter after doing a Google search and finding the original source of some of Carr’s responses.
The originally unattributed material in Carr’s responses included multiple word-for-word paragraphs and talking points taken from an article, “Five Principles That Must Guide School Reopenings,” written by Nicole Baker Fulgham and published August 13, 2020 at sojo.net. The responses also included unattributed material from a press release from Fulgham’s Expectations Project, online at http://www.expectations.org/; and an opinion piece, “What Happens When Students Have Ownership Over Their Success,” written by Nicole Williams Beechum and published September 9, 2020 at www.edweek.org.
Additionally, a number of Carr’s campaign planks were the same as those of Dr. Jen Mangrum, a candidate running for election of North Carolina Superintendent. The responses were found on Mangrum’s campaign website, https://www.jenmangrumfornc.com/priorities.
Some of the text was taken word-for-word from other authors, without attribution. In other cases, some of the original unattributed text was slightly altered or rewritten. In response to a News-Journal question about how the candidate would address the COVID-19 pandemic as a school board member, Carr submitted text from Fulgham’s article, “Five Principles That Must Guide School Reopenings.”
Fulgham wrote in her original article, “Like so many of us, my deep Christian faith drives the way I inherently view inequality – especially the inequities in public education. I grew up in Detroit and saw disparities outside my front door and throughout my community.”
In her responses to the Q&A, Carr wrote, “Like so many of us, my deep Christian faith drives the way I inherently view inequality – especially the inequities in public education. I grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and saw disparities outside my front door and throughout my community.”
In another example, the candidate’s responses included both unaltered and partially rewritten text taken from the Expectation Project press release.
The original press release stated, “While our nation evaluates the right approach to embarking on the 2020-2021 school year, and debates the merits of various models –ranging from full distance learning, to fully reopening schools, to various hybrids in between – we must not lose sight of the broader moral picture. As the nation’s leading faith-rooted organization mobilizing people of faith to advocate for educational equity, The Expectations Project believes the moral test of our education system is whether our most vulnerable students are prioritized. Motivated by our faith and values, we will advocate for – and urge decision-makers to embrace – these Five Principles on Educational Equity and COVID-19: Prioritizing Vulnerable Students During the 2020-2021 School Year.”
Carr’s responses to the Q&A stated, “While our nation evaluates the right approach to embarking on the 2020-2021 school year and debates the merits of various reopening approaches, we must not lose sight of the broader moral picture. As Hoke County’s leading faith-rooted Candidate on this subject-matter, is mobilizing a Grassroots Community of people of faith to advocate for educational equity, The Campaign to Elect Deltarina V. Carr Hoke County Board of Education Policy Committee believes the moral test of our education system is whether we prioritize our most vulnerable students. Motivated by our faith and values, we encourage people of faith to advocate for – and urge decision-makers to embrace – these five principles as schools decide how to reopen.”
When staff confirmed that some of Carr’s responses contained unattributed material taken from multiple sources, The News-Journal removed Carr’s Q&A responses from its website and contacted Carr about the matter.
After discussion about how to proceed, Carr added citations to her responses and resubmitted them. The News-Journal staff then replaced Carr’s Q&A responses with the responses she amended to contain attributions to the original sources.
Carr’s Q&A answers, and the answers from other candidates seeking election to the Hoke County Board of Education, can be seen online at www.hokenews.com on the Hoke Elections page. The Q&A also includes responses from candidates seeking election to the Hoke County Board of Commissioners.
News-Journal staff reached out to Carr seeking a statement about what happened, and why her Q&A responses contained unattributed material. Carr issued a statement saying she had permission to use the unattributed material in question, and that a staff member of her campaign had failed to include proper citations in her Q&A responses.
The News-Journal reached out to the original authors seeking confirmation that Carr had permission to use their writing, but as of Tuesday had not received a response.
Carr said in her campaign statement about the matter:
“From the outset let me make it abundantly clear in my ‘official candidate’s statement’ that at all times relevant to the pervasiveness of plagiarism levied, and such distractive allegation brought with only 14 days remaining until Election Day, November 3, 2020, such notable ‘mistakes’ has historically been treated as a common, often inadvertent occurrence, rather like speeding on the road or jaywalking when all the unambiguous facts has been properly induced to the third party aggrieved, that in noway was the attributional authors in whom my Campaign was given ‘full permission’ to use any or all material authored for purposes of Campaign Dr. Deltarina Carr’s “focus group,” but admittedly through one of my subordinate staff writers/editors did so inadvertently fail to give appropriate attributions thereto, and to mark quote said research work of authorship. For example, as was/are the uncontested factual background facts here:”
“1) At all times relevant hereto Campaign Dr. Deltarina Carr was expressly given unabated permission by each author cited in the News Journal’s public article to publish as an integral part (not all used) of her Q/A issued by the News Journal (hereinafter ‘NJ’) to each School Board Candidate, and as part of her focus committee’s many months of research on pertinent issues to formulate a comprehensive plan of action surrounding subject-matters in which prior to her issuance to the NJ for a better understanding of the pro’s and con’s of the instituting a range of issues facing Hoke County’s Public School. However, I do want to make clear that as the Candidate vying to serve The Board of Education, do hereby take full responsibility of unintentional ‘mistakes’ made by my Staff Writer/Editor, and am extremely remorseful to my constituent base and fellow citizens of Hoke County (though we secured permission to use said research material) for any pains we may have caused as a direct and proximate result of failing to place quotation and/or attributions in my answers. The buck stops here. Albeit, that staffer has been terminated and is no longer associated with my Campaign who was uncharacteristically unfocussed, and caused unattributed writing by others in whom I have been collaborating with to appear solely as my own work (though the vast majority was) without giving attribution. But be assured , I have instituted safeguards to prevent such breaches from happening again in the future. However, though these acts, including having permission to utilize said research material, and Dr. Jen Mangrum’s blessings for me to use as part of a platform what I ascribe to as a staunch supporter of her’s, and to be aligned with her priorities as a partner in education, my campaign’s derelictions will not attempt to not take responsibility. A true Leader can and should admit when they’ve erred directly or indirectly.”
“2) Though I have never had anything of like manner leveled against me until I decided to go up against ‘Hoke County’s deep pocketed establishment political powers that be,’ I will note I did anticipate some sort of unsavory attacks to be forthcoming– I must say that I am not caught off guard by this ‘October Surprise’ having run such a successful campaign for ‘The People By The People’ of Hoke County, in the sense of the timing of attack as I have walked a moral astute and issue based ‘referendum’ line against several ‘old political guard candidates,’ including the Incumbent who has at least on several occasions “misrepresented” to the voters the will of the parents and teachers who did not vote in a majority to send Hoke’s Students back into a “brick and mortar” building, but in truth voted in a vast majority to send their children back to Hoke County School (ONLINE VIRTUAL SCHOOLING ONLY) (Please refer to Raeford News Journal’s July 15, 2020, and Hoke County School’s Survey) (https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10216803223502996&id=1535535838 Facebook Live Interview by Rosa McAllister McRae); who I still believe authoritarian style political rule and stalling of growth and safety of our Children, Teachers, Parents and vast Community has neared it’s regime’s rulership end and is on the Ballot this critical Election Year. That is but for their strategic attempted take down of those they see as innovative change agents, the periphery will take place, though Rosa McAllister McRae’s knowing and intentional misrepresentations have been insulated and not fact checked in any respect, excepting Dr. Deltarina Carr’s attempts to have corrected such inaccuracies on the Campaign Trail and with The Raeford News Journal. Nevertheless, Dr. Deltarina V. Carr, wholeheartedly take responsibility of her staffer’s inadvertent err without quiver-cation. Why? Because as noted above this is my Campaign and oversight stops with me. However, FACT CHECKING should be equally addressed. Anything less is arbitrary treatment.”
“For this cause I pray forgiveness therefore. It is quite axiomatic that other political candidates who have undergone similar attacks unbeknownst and unawares to the original causation allegations were dealt with as matters of etiquette rather than ‘pilfering .’ The undeniable danger, I believe, is that by their waging of political war for what was an honest mistake opposed to competitive plagiarism allegations can be a way of mounting unscrupulous attacks on my Campaign for politically targeted reasons to silence my undeterred advocacy for those voices stifled in the political process in which I’ve directly championed against the current School Board and the deep pocketed county commissioners whose governance I’ve exposed in unnecessary pet projects (pork) in contravention to the necessity of a New Traditional School here in Hoke County– not to negate the fact that their collective judgments to send our most valuable assets into a cesspool of Covid-19 contractions– the brick and mortar buildings that they know are not ventilated properly by reasons of outdated and antiquated air units. Nevertheless, be it known, this orchestrated ploy will not deter my ultimate mission and call to continue to forge forward for those who have been praying for change in the highest order; ‘for if God be for [Hoke] He’s more than the [entire ‘old-political guard’ regime] against us.’ I take solace in the timeless marching orders of our late Great Congressman John Robert Lewis: ‘We are getting into good trouble, necessary trouble as we fight for the soul of America.’”
“Finally, we mustn’t view this as an aberrant matter, for even our Presidential Candidate, Vice-President Joe Biden, has made this sort of error under different circumstances; Senator Ted Cruz; Dr. Martin Luther King; Senator Rand Paul, and even President Barack Obama, and so many other politicians who use research to covey what they truly believe in and are fighting for. At any rate, I accept full responsibility for my Campaign’s mistake, though I had no knowledge that my carefully crafted notes would not be given proper attributions and quote marks.”
“Thank you for bringing this to my attention. My Campaign will be more careful going forward so as to not have such grave issues as raised during these last several months mired and the People’s Voices silenced as a direct and proximate result of my Campaign’s inadvertence.”
Carr is one of four candidates seeking election to one of two available seats on the Hoke County Board of Education. The other candidates include Keisha Gill, John Wright and incumbent Rosa McAllister-McRae. All four candidates’ Q&A responses are available to read on www.hokenews.com.