'Sunscreen' speech being investigated

The graduation speech given by Springstead High School principal Susan Duval was almost identical to a famous Chicago Tribune column.

Published June 3, 2005

SPRING HILL - Springstead High School principal Susan Duval is under investigation by school district officials after plagiarizing a famous Chicago Tribune column in her commencement speech.

Superintendent Wendy Tellone said Friday that district officials were investigating Duval's actions to see if she had behaved improperly. Tellone's comments came the same day that the Times published an article detailing how Duval's May 26 speech was almost identical to a 1997 newspaper column by Mary Schmich.

For now, Duval remains an active employee of the school district. She has not been suspended and still draws her salary.

"It's a personnel investigation," Tellone said. "We will be handling this like we would any other personnel issue."

Tellone hired Duval to run Springstead in 2003. Tellone's predecessor, superintendent John Sanders, had removed Duval from a job as principal of Springstead in 1996 with no explanation.

Barbara Kidder, the district's director of labor relations and professional standards, is expected to look into Duval's actions next week. Duval did not respond to a message left on her cell phone Friday seeking comment.

But when asked about her speech Thursday, Duval said she had come across the speech while doing research on the Internet and never learned the name of the author. She also said she did not intend to commit plagiarism and did not feel she had done so.

-- Abhi Raghunathan can be reached at araghunathan@sptimes.com or 352-848-1431.

See tomorrow's Times or sptimes.com for the full report.