Principal Accused Of Plagiarism At Esteemed Manhattan School For Writers And Artists

Did Joseph Anderson Use Without Attribution For Commencement Speech?

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A principal at a top writing school in Manhattan has been accused of ripping off a famous commencement speech.

“We can’t tolerate plagiarism in our system,” NYC School Chancellor Dennis Walcott said on Wednesday.

That’s the accusation being leveled at Joseph Anderson, principal of the Clinton School for Writers and Artists on the West Side, reports CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport.

It is alleged that at a commencement speech he delivered to his eighth grade class, Anderson ripped off passages of another graduation speech by writer David Foster Wallace, delivered in 2005, reciting the words without attribution.

It’s an accusation that is particularly ironic for a school that prides itself on being geared toward writers.

So what does Principal Anderson have to say about all this? Well, Rapoport’s attempts to contact him were unsuccessful.

But according to his union, which he spoke with Tuesday, Anderson said he meant to attribute the speech but forgot, saying about 20 percent of his speech was taken from Foster Wallace and that he is very upset about the incident.

“We have a standard that we have to adhere to and that standard does not include plagiarism,” Walcott said.

Walcott added the entire matter in under investigation.

Walcott said if the plagiarism accusation proves to be true, he will then decide what action to take against the principal.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • Tim Hoffman

    So far no one is able so say what Joe Anderson has to say in his full defense. Knowing him as a parent I still have full faith in him. I’d like him to have the chance to explain and clear himself. He’s too good at his job to lose.

  • Thea

    If you quote someone else, you give credit to the person quoted. Period. “Forgetting” may certainly work for a small child but a grown man (and a Principal of a school?), come on! Either he is incredibly arrogant or sloppy or….In any case, this is disgraceful behavior. No excuses. “Honest mistake,”? Are you kidding? Do you even know what that means?

  • The Cryptojournalist

    “Four score and seven years ago, Clinton School for…”

    Oh, sorry. Sorry.

    What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate

  • Taidgh Barron, Clinton Class of 2011

    Mr. Anderson is a great principle, he cares for us and he works hard to make Clinton the best middle school in New York. He works hard and is very passionate about Clinton. He didn’t intend to commit plagiarism at his speech to us. He gave a meaningful speech at our graduation. He was telling us why we should think in different ways in a way that we would better understand and connect to; he paraphrased not plagiarized. The parent who reported this to the press was a journalist.
    Instead of talking to Mr. Anderson first, this parent went ahead and wrote an article about it without thinking. I know this might not be a tainted medical paper, but when you have the New York Times, CBS, and the Daily News all reporting about this, it hurts the school more than anyone else.

    • nathan

      No dog in this fight but it sounds to me like that parent had an axe to grind with the principal. Maybe his little Johnny isn’t doing so well. Going straight to the press without confronting the man first is a coward’s move.

  • J,Thurber

    Who is David Foster Wallace ? I now know who Mr Anderson is,odd how this
    world works.

  • Cynical

    Mr. Anderson is just as phony as his school. They’re all great writers and writers in the 8th grade?

    • Mia Boday, Clinton Class of 2011

      It’s “Writers and ARTISTS” actually. See, everyone can make mistakes.

  • nathan

    Honestly – who really cares? I just met Mayor Bloomberg and Mr Walcott at a schools event at Gracie Mansion about an hr ago. They didn’t look too upset.

  • A, Clinton Graduate 2011

    This was blown out of proportions, I believe.
    I think it should have probably been kept inside the CWA (Clinton for Writers and Artists) community and not put out to the public because I was there as well and although I did not hear him recognize the author and did not suspect it was someone else’s words by what he said, it shouldn’t have been reported to make him look bad because mistakes happen, and although I do not know whether it was a mistake or not,(which I do think there is a high chance it was a mistake) he is a good person and I think a letter from parents to him personally or the gossiping would have been enough to settle the matter as I heard he was leaving anyway.
    I would not like to say any personal comments about Mr.Anderson but I just feel like I should say that he isnt the bad guy some of these articles make him look like.

  • A. L. Lyons

    Mia ,
    I find it so nice that you are supporting your Principal.
    I am wondering who caught this supposed speech ripoff and
    why is it so important? ,just a pep talk after all ,we are not talking of
    a tainted medical research paper.

  • M.R.Rilke

    Really this is too funny for words.

  • gar

    Forgot attribution? He’s a professional. Think it was more than just being forgetful.

  • Mia Boday, Clinton Class of 2011

    Mr. Anderson has been my principal for 2 years. I just graduated this year and I was there for his speech. You can tell he wasn’t talking about himself during that speech. I find that you are beating him for an honest mistake. He is a nice guy who was there for every school event, giving us support.

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