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Purdue reviews plagiarism charge against charter school official

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GARY, Ind. (AP) — Purdue University is reviewing allegations that a member of the Indiana State Board of Education who also is the chief administrative officer of a Gary charter school plagiarized portions of her doctoral dissertation.

The Journal Gazette reported that portions of the doctoral dissertation turned in by Gwendolyn Griffith Adell are nearly identical to information in a 1999 dissertation submitted by a doctoral candidate at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.

Adell denies plagiarizing portions of her dissertation.

"I have no idea how this came about,” she told The Times of Munster. “I’ve hired an attorney. I haven’t done anything wrong. I earned my doctorate from Purdue in 2004. I started on my dissertation in 1998.”

Purdue University spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg told the Post-Tribune of Merrillville the review is in its early stages.

“There is no cookie-cutter approach here,” Norberg said. “We’ll review it and we’ll have to decide which part of the university has jurisdiction over it and what the process should be.”

Adell is the former principal of the Thea Bowman Leadership Academy in Gary. She was promoted earlier this school year to chief administrative officer, the equivalent of a superintendent for the elementary and secondary charter schools. In 2006, she was appointed to the state board of education, representing the 1st Congressional District.

Doug Martin, an independent researcher, sent a letter April 12 to Gov. Mitch Daniels, Purdue University and others alleging the plagiarism. Martin told the Post-Tribune he doesn’t think Adell should lose her degree, but he wants Daniels to force her to step down from the state’s Education Board.

“Most universities would take her degree if they find her guilty, or some would ask her to revise the dissertation,” he said.

Officials at the Indiana Department of Education told The Times they are waiting to see the results of Purdue’s review.

Michael Bakalis, head of Chicago-based American Quality Schools, which operates the Bowman Academy, told The Times he’s also waiting for the results of Purdue’s review. He said Adell remains in her position.

“If there is evidence of plagiarism? Is it a graph, a chapter or half the dissertation?” he questioned. “We will see once Purdue makes a determination, then I will review it."


Posted 5/16/2011




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