He was unresponsive, insulting and a no show; time for Johnson to resign

We can all agree that school board member Dan Johnson made a stupid mistake when he plagiarized a famous speech during the Arcata High School graduation ceremony on June 13. By his own admission, the mistake was the result of his own ignorance.

ramblingbox.iguanaOne would think that the person appointed to oversee McKinleyville and Arcata high schools would have a basic grasp of the concepts of plagiarism and academic dishonesty. Apparently not.

Had Johnson acknowledged his blunder and apologized soon after the speech, perhaps we could put this issue behind us. A mistake was made. Johnson apologized. Let’s move on.

But for some maddening reason, Johnson waited a month and half to say anything. During that time, he refused to return reporters’ emails and phone calls. He was unresponsive to his constituents. That, in and of itself, is a problem.

It wasn’t until last Friday that he finally made his apology. This should have been the end of the story. But no.

Johnson failed to show up at the special meeting that was set up to address his own problem. Why wasn’t he there? This meeting was about him. This was his opportunity to address the issue, but he was a no show.

Then there was his apology, in which he lashes out at critics.

In a prepared statement, he wrote:  “I understand that for some in our community – the self-appointed referees of good and evil – no explanation or apology I can offer is good enough. But I’m comfortable in the knowledge that their intolerance, so readily on display, is a far more profound flaw than mine.”

By using the words “self-appointed referees of good and evil” Johnson is belittling community members who care about academic honesty and spoke publicly about his plagiarism. They were speaking out during a time when Johnson and his fellow school board members were cocooned inside a  cone of silence. There was an absence of leadership at the Northern Humboldt Union High School District.  The public had so speak out to fill the void. (Nobody, by the way, ever said that Johnson or his plagiarism were “evil.” Just dishonest.)

Then Johnson accuses he critics of intolerance. This, actually, is true.  Those who have criticized Johnson are intolerant of plagiarism. Johnson may not be aware of this, but the institution he oversees is also intolerant of plagiarism and other forms of cheating. This is really basic stuff in academia, something that a school board member should know about.

Johnson equates this intolerance of cheating to some sort of profound personal flaw. That doesn’t make any sense. Do teachers who scold their students for cheating have a profound personal flaw? Of course not. Johnson probably doesn’t think so either.

The point of Johnson’s criticism is to shift the blame and turn himself into a victim. As one person wrote on the McKinleyville Press website, Johnson’s attempt at an apology “is not only backhanded, but also unremorseful, egocentric, narcissistic, and genuinely unapologetic.”

Following the June 13 commencement, when Johnson was informed that it’s not cool to plagiarize a speech, Johnson should have simply acknowledged his mistake and apologized. That would have been sufficient. We all make mistakes.

But his weeks of silence, unresponsiveness, lack of leadership and his lame-ass attempt at an apology really call into question his ability to serve as steward of our local high schools. It’s time for Johnson to resign.


9 thoughts on “He was unresponsive, insulting and a no show; time for Johnson to resign

  1. I am a graduate of Arcata High School. Three of my children are graduates of AHS, also. I currently have four children in this district. (With two more to follow.) Several of my children have benefited from Mr. Johnson’s generosity to his school district. I understand he has contributed a great deal to his community. With that being said, in my opinion, Mr. Johnson should resign his position as Board member of my district. This has nothing to do with forgiving, or not forgiving. Again, in my opinion, Mr. Johnson is not qualified to hold this honorable position.

  2. The best thing he can do now, for his reputation, is to resign. If it’s bad now, it will be worse sitting up there at board meetings with people looking at him, knowing his recent history with the school district.

    A resignation demonstrates he recognizes the gravity of the situation. Period. It also begins to distance him from these unfortunate incidents (the speech, the delay in responding, then the written response and being absent from the meeting convened to discuss his actions).

    If he hopes of hold any other future elected position, that future begins with his resignation and a new, full, repentance, an apology that makes no excuses and casts no blame.

  3. Dan Johnson who owns Danco has made a big mistake. We all make mistakes. He should explain himself to the public. I believe Dan is a highly ambitious man. He owes the public an explanation. 7/30

  4. Pretty clear to see what should happen will not. No matter what members of the community request, those elected by the people, for the people, and of the people will not show their mettle and represent the people. I borrowed that last part from people far greater than I.

  5. Dan Johnson’s snarky faux apology shows that he is unfit for his position on the school board. His paranoia and cluelessness, however, would make him a perfect candidate for the NCRA board.

  6. While my criticism of Mr. Johnson for his violation of educational ethics and subsequent self-centered, non-apology has not waned, and while I stand by my belief that he should resign for the sake of the school district, I will admit that my initial criticism of the district’s administrative staff for their lack of direct condemnation of Mr. Johnson’s plagiarism was not well thought out. The fact is, they cannot do anything, other than make a personal comment regarding their attitude about plagiarism, which they have done. For my initial criticism of my former colleagues, I offer my apology.
    However, after some extensive googeling for similar cases (and there are plenty), there are some things that can be done. Individual board members can individually and publicly condemn Johnson’s actions, and collectively, the board can publicly censure his actions. Additionally, the public, the only body that can actually do something about holding Mr. Johnson accountable, can appeal to the board to recommend that he resign. Or the public can initiate a recall petition.
    In the vast majority of cases I read in which a board member plagiarized a graduation (or other official) speech, the offending board member exhibited the courage and dignity to resign. That would be the right thing for Mr. Johnson to do in this case.

Comments are closed.