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First Maria Barbosa, Now Andy Dance: 2 Taints of Plagiarism, But Only One Admits It

| August 11, 2014

Flagler County School Board Chairman Andy Dance acknowledges that he 'screwed up,' and called his plagiarism a 'teachable moment.' (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler County School Board Chairman Andy Dance acknowledges that he ‘screwed up,’ and called his plagiarism a ‘teachable moment.’ (© FlaglerLive)

No matter how he explains it, Andy Dance, the chairman of the Flagler County School Board, acknowledges that the instances of plagiarism noted in his initial answers to written questions by the News-Journal add up to a black eye for what he terms “an otherwise spotless six years,” and a black eye for the school district he represents.

“I was the one that just screwed up,” Dance said Monday. “I’m extremely sorry for the black eye I put on the district. It’s not just me but it’s the district.”

Maria Barbosa, Dance’s opponent, was also found to have plagiarized her answers, even more so than Dance, just as she had plagiarized her answers in a FlaglerLive interview.

How Dance and Barbosa handled the plagiarism issue contrasted sharply. Dance took full responsibility and provided an explanation of how his lifted answers made it into text presented as his own, citing both sloppiness on his part and “frustration” with the News-Journal’s format.

Barbosa has never taken responsibility for the plagiarism when asked about it by FlaglerLive, the News-Journal, and Jacksonville’s Channel 4. She denied, against hard evidence to the contrary, that she plagiarized her answers in the FlaglerLive interview. She gave the News-Journal an incomprehensible answer when asked about her plagiarism in her newspaper answers:  “… About voter guide Q’s, if you don’t mind, I will pass the comments to the opponent. thank you for the opportunity.”

Barbosa also has yet to authenticate her claim that she earned a master’s and a doctorate.

The News-Journal revealed the plagiarism in its Sunday editions, six days after FlaglerLive revealed that Barbosa had extensively plagiarized her answers in her written FlaglerLive interview. Dance’s FlaglerLive interview, which runs to nearly 5,000 words, was authenticated as entirely his. The interview was again processed through a plagiarism-checker Sunday, and again proved clean of any instance of plagiarism, or borrowed and unattributed text.

maria barbosa flagler county school board candidate 2014

Maria Barbosa has refused either to acknowledge that she plagiarized or to answer questions about the issue.

The News-Journal’s Natalie Kornicks reported plagiarism “at least four times in Dance’s replies and six times in Barbosa’s responses.” The News-Journal did not publish the plagiarized version of the interviews, rather giving Dance and Barbosa the opportunity to rewrite their answers first.

The paper required candidates to answer a set of questions in three sentences, regardless of the question. Dance found that too limiting, and his frustration tripped him. “I was not happy with their format and I submitted it too long on purpose,” Dance said. “I just didn’t like their format and I didn’t like being limited.” It was in those answers that he’d lifted passages from other texts, without attribution. He’d done that, he said, in a hurry, taking bullet points he’d gathered in his research and passing some off as his. The paper then asked for shorter answers. As he prepared the shorter version, he corrected his earlier transgression. In Dance’s telling, he was the one to tell the reporter that he’d made mistakes initially.

“I submitted the redone one,” Dance said, “and I think the way they got away with saying what they did is they sent an email to each of the board member that said I’m getting ready to make a final edit, and if there are changes you want to make, please make them in your own words.” He added: “It was after I submitted my second version that they told me that there were mistakes,” meaning in his first set of responses.

But whether the plagiarism had been in the first set or not, it had taken place, and the News-Journal was only reporting, correctly, that plagiarism had been detected: whether Dance eliminated it in his second version or not doesn’t erase the fact that he had committed some plagiarism. After initially attempting to downplay the seriousness of the offense by explaining the timeline, he conceded, without qualifications and with remorse, that the mistake was his.

“In the end regardless of my issues with the News-Journal,” he said, “I just have to acknowledge I made a mistake and I’ll be stronger for it, I’ll be better for it. I volunteered the information, I didn’t hide anything.”

The paper reported that Dance and the rest of the board will soon be considering the revisions to the plagiarism policy, which would call for a suspension for second-time offenders and expulsion from the course where the plagiarism took place for a third offense.

Currently at Matanzas High School, a first offense leads to a warning, a parent conference and a zero on the assignment. A second offense leads to parental contact and an out of school suspension, as well as a zero. A third offense is a loss of the course credit. Bob Sawyer, the dean of students at Matanzas, said the approach applies in all the schools.

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25 Responses for “First Maria Barbosa, Now Andy Dance: 2 Taints of Plagiarism, But Only One Admits It”

  1. Let's see now says:

    Modifying the “plagiarism policy” on children verses Grown Fully Educated and competent ADULTS…
    hmmmm, yep. That’s equal in comparison. Yes, there needs to be consequences in place for such a thing. But honestly, just like t.v. shows? is there really anything different to write anymore? Let’s say we work on EDUCATING our children within our school walls and stop thinking of all the punishments that we can come up with. too bad it’s too late for me to run. I’d blow you both out of the water!

  2. m&m says:

    I don’t care what they say because I’m voting all the incumbunts OUT. This goes for State, County, City and School Board..

  3. Steve Wolfe says:

    Ya know, I kind of like Andy Dance. He seems like a nice thoughtful guy. But….”to tell you the truth…” I think that when a leader violates his own policy, he can no longer lead. Leaders have to uphold the highest standards. How can the rest of the board or county staff now honestly follow his lead? The black eye he speaks of is his own, not the rest of the board’s because only he has personally diminished the authority of the Chairman. A consequence of Andy’s bad “choice” should be to resign. That would be the best way that Andy could show the students, staff and faculty that he really means business about plagiarism. So is there a zero tolerance policy for School Board members, or will they lead by example and demonstrate that you can “violate but still be great?” Why should teacher be miffed if the students also lift? Let the Chairman set the tone if you can’t write your own. Dunno how to write? No prob, that dog don’t bite. What ya gonna do if they won’t vote for you? Oh, somebody stop me, please…

    I am not hereby endorsing Barbosa, either. We have a conundrum here.

  4. fruitcake says:

    No back pedaling please….and I agree with m&m…not voting for ANY incumbents…time to clean house!

  5. John Smallberries says:

    Well, Barbosa’s behavior regarding this show you exactly how unbalanced she would probably be in this position, so.

  6. Ralph Belcher says:

    I’ll give credit for Andy’s responding to the allegation/claim. And I think that says more about someone than who shies away from an honest confrontation. Yeah, go ahead and hide in your rabbit holes until the votes are counted. Not very proud of your actions avoiding a conversation about an allegation. Not at all. Stand up for what you represent, please.

  7. gramps212 says:

    I agree, they should be held to higher standards, after all they’re making the rules & expect everyone else to follow. Incumbents OUT! Time for a fresh crew. Unfortunately, it will require people to VOTE! Too many long-time locals here say it’ll never happen, let’s prove them wrong.

  8. GOTTALUVPC says:

    I know Andy Dance personally. He is a good guy. No one is perfect but I think he has handled his mistake and can move on from here. That shows what kind of person he is that he can admit when he made a mistake and will learn from the situation. I don’t think that you can say the same for Barbosa. Andy has done a great job on the school board and replacing him with Barbosa would be a huge mistake for our school system. He is a hard working father that will make sure his kids are going to a good school with good policies.

    • Steve Wolfe says:

      It’s admirable that you stand by your friend, and I believe what you said about Andy. I just disagree with your conclusion that he should stay. He isn’t going to get that egg off his face. It is a question of credibility now that the policy setter has violated the policy himself. He should do the honorable thing and step aside in a final act of leading by example.

  9. confidential says:

    Keep in mind that Dance insisted and voted with the other board members for a loosing referendum that cost the taxpayers over $80,000, when they were warned by us and even SOE Weeks suggested as they will proceed anyway with it, should be done by mail vote only referendum, to be way less costly. Board including Dance unceremoniously told the SOE and us all practically “go take a hike”. They proceeded with the loosing referendum anyway and rejected the by mail vote ….simply because then more people would have voted by mail….Other than trying to squeeze higher taxes from us why instead try to reduce waste? Because there is a lot of waste (technology and paid software programs useless except for the buyers and consenters) not intended at all to improve our students education. Out with incumbents we need change across the board and the message to the future incumbents that we mean business.

  10. carol bennett says:

    Andy Dance is sorry he got caught. How low can he get, trying to pull a fast one.
    Vote him out!!!!!!

  11. Franklin's Tower says:

    Maria has my vote. Don’t know much about the school board and just don’t care, no kids, came here to retire and would prefer a much more retirement oriented community anyway. That said, I voted for Maria based on the plagiarism campaign waged on Flagler Live. I too am focusing on getting all incumbents out. The good old boy network has got to go. So, anyone know when that property appraiser is up for re-election again? Now that guy is way to comfortable.

    • Schottey says:

      OK, so you:

      1) Are voting for Maria *because* she was caught plagiarizing?
      2) Moved to Palm Coast but want a retirement community?

      Not seeing the logic here.

      • Franklin's Tower says:

        That’s right, I moved to Florida to retire for the warm weather and the lower taxes. For myself and a lot of others my age, we came here to retire, not to raise families. Been there, done that and believe me, if I had kids I would not come here or would leave immediately. You can call it plagiarizing if you like. These are local people, community folks running for local offices, this is not state or national level stuff. If the lady learned by researching and then parroting, well it was a learning experience for her. Hopefully, some of it stuck. The level of vitriolic rhetoric regarding her plagiarizing, if that is what it was, is way too high even taking on vendetta proportions. A simple, hey guys, ran software on these candidates and they took some of it out of World Book, the web or whatever would have sufficed. So, yeah, sorry Dance, Maria got my vote. Maria, you may thank Flagler Live for a vote. Any other questions? No, I did not plagiarize this response.

  12. Lin says:

    A lot of candidates at library this morning
    Talk to them
    Here for puppet show

  13. Sven says:

    they both need to be disqualified from running. What would the punishment be for one of our students?

    • Lin says:

      It is too late to get anyone to qualify to get on the ballot
      An apology just doesn’t seem to be enough but to remove Andy Dance for malfeasance seems harsh
      I just wish they would both withdraw

      • Steve Wolfe says:

        Yep. I just wonder how the board will respond to Andy after this if he stays. How can he face any of them and expect to be taken seriously? This is a matter of holding people to account, which is the purview of the voters. If we want better people statewide and nationally, first we must sweep our own front porch. This is where it all starts, folks!

  14. LoProfile says:

    I believe both Maria Barbosa and Andy Dance should withdraw from the election. Andy Dance needs to resign, the governor can appoint someone to take his place until we can have another election. They both had the opportunity to do the honest thing, but they chose the easy way out. They are poor role models for our children.

  15. tulip says:

    All the things that come to light about various politicians during campaign time are the reason I don’t like to vote early or absentee vote, as there have been times when I voted early and wished I had waited until the official election day.

  16. Rob says:

    Plagiarizing someone’s work is similar to stealing.
    It is the academic equivalent.
    Taking another’s work and representing it as your own is stealing or robbery.
    Politicians prevaricate on a regular basis.
    Some get caught in wrong doing and even some get caught breaking the law.
    There are very few who resign their positions and those who do often go down kicking.
    If you think this man, who was caught red handed and then minimizes his stealing by calling it a black eye, is going to resign you had better think again.

    Power or the illusion of power intoxicates. This man will hang on until he is voted out when his term is up. I hope he proves me wrong.

  17. informed says:

    If I went around displaying a PHD…”Dr Barbosa, PHD” in her name and a public paper asked for proof, I’d be happy to present the documents.

    So……Maria…..where are they?????

    That’s not one strike, that’s too strikes.

    Until I saw those documents, there is no way she’d have my vote. I’m not a fool.

  18. w.ryan says:

    Well this is an interesting development! But no matter what change is needed. No more of he same. Whether Andy or Maria, answers has to be found!!!

  19. jennifer Lopez says:

    Ms. Lopez, all incidents of plagiarism were documented in the the Barbosa interview at this link in the story.

    How the plagiarism was discovered is in the article at this link:

    Not sure who you think is playing a game here. Try to keep up before you accuse Flaglerlive of not sticking to the facts.~FL

    I keep hearing the word Plagiarism, but this writer of this article has not released the actual words said that are damaged. There is a simple soft ware that most of the colleges in America use to sort these things out, and my teacher would hand it back to us, with each word, each sentence and quoted with each violation if one has happened.
    I think this is a game now, and its very frustrating, stick to the facts.

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