ROCHESTER, Minn. - The Superintendent of Rochester Public Schools is apologizing for sending a letter laced with plagiarism to staff ahead of Thanksgiving.
In the letter, Superintendent Michael Munoz thanked staff for their work during the pandemic. However, on Monday, Munoz was sending an altogether different note to educators, taking responsibility for plagiarizing the kind words he had sent the week before.
"I made the bad choice that I did to plagiarize the Thanksgiving letter that was sent to you last week. I know by doing this I have damaged your respect and trust in me," Munoz said in an email to RPS staff.
City Council Commissioner Michael Wojcik says the lapse in judgment is obvious, even to the students Munoz oversees.
"I asked my 12-year-old daughter, who is a 7th grader, whether or not it's okay to send out a letter that was taken from somebody else without acknowledging that," Wojcik said. "And she said 'no, no that's completely wrong, that's plagiarism.'"
Wojcik acknowledges as a city council member, there's little he can do about Munoz's superintendent status, but as a concerned parent, he's hopeful the Rochester Public School Board will take action.
"I think that the school board, particularly the incoming school board, is going to take a look at this, and pretty swiftly take some actions," Wojcik said.
Below is the full email Munoz sent to staff Monday morning:
Dear RPS Staff,
I want to say I am really sorry that I made the bad choice that I did to plagiarize the Thanksgiving letter that was sent to you last week. I know by doing this I have damaged your respect and trust in me. I know this behavior is not acceptable and minimizes my intent to tell you that I understand that last Spring and this school year have been very challenging for all of you and let you know that I truly do appreciate everything that all of you are doing to meet the needs of all our students and families and supporting each other. I know it has been difficult to balance work, family and the pandemic and but you manage to go above beyond every single day.
I was taught by my father to own up to your mistake and I am doing that now. It was wrong what I did and trying to explain what led me to do this would just come across as making excuses and I don’t want to do that. I can tell you that I am committed to rebuild your confidence and trust in me every single day. I will learn from this mistake and be a better leader and person moving forward.
Again, I am sorry for putting all of you through this and I hope with time you will be able to trust me again.
Rochester Public Schools