Anoka-Hennepin school board candidate accused of plagiarism

An Anoka-Hennepin School Board candidate is being accused of plagiarizing posts on her campaign’s Facebook page.

A WordPress blog site was created by “a group of concerned parents and citizens” comparing posts from Grace Baltich’s campaign Facebook page and exact word-for-word quotes from other political campaign websites directly beside it.

Grace Baltich

Grace Baltich

The blog, titled “Grace Baltich for all kids? Or for Grace Baltich?” posts “screenshot comparisons of her Facebook campaign page and the other sites with matching content.”

The blog continues, “Many of these websites have copyright markings on their pages. Where available, one will also notice the publishing of the website articles are older than dates of posts containing the identical text on Grace Baltich’s Facebook page.”

Baltich last week issued a public written response. “I would like to apologize on behalf of my campaign for these unfortunate errors,” she wrote.

“I was unaware that the postings were not original content until it was communicated to me yesterday (Oct. 16) … The postings in question were not made personally by me. I allowed my volunteer Facebook team to post on my behalf, the purpose of which was to encourage education and debate on the issues facing our school district today.”

Since the incident, Baltich’s campaign Facebook page has been removed.

Plagiarism, by definition, is to take ideas from another and pass them off as one’s own. The concerned voters said they don’t understand how this could have happened, since the Anoka-Hennepin School District is so adamant on teaching its students at a young age not to plagiarize.

Brian Tommerdahl, of Champlin, questioned the standards of the Baltich campaign. “What type of precedent are we setting for ourselves if we ignore this?” Tommerdahl said. “This particular case abuses moral boundaries. For me, it’s an honesty issue.”

He also asked how long has this has been going on and if there are other areas of Baltich’s campaign that could be questioned.

Champlin resident Jeff Bauman said he was upset with the situation.

Bauman said the Facebook site was taken down because, “she knows she’s been caught.”

However, Baltich said she is determined to set the record straight. Later in her public statement, she said, “I take full responsibility for not having absolute oversight of the information being posted on my campaign’s Facebook page.

“As a licensed social worker I take ethics and my integrity very seriously. It is my responsibility to clean up these errors on Facebook, and I have done so.

“In addition to removing my campaign’s Facebook page, I will contact each individual and organization whose content was used inappropriately and apologize to them.”

Baltich was asked to comment for this story, but did not return phone messages left for her.

Baltich is a candidate in Election District 3, which includes Champlin, portions of Dayton and the northwest part of Coon Rapids. The school board election is Nov. 5.

Megan Hopps is at megan.hopps@ecm-inc.com

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