A West Virginia principal accused of plagiarizing Ashton Kutcher in an address to his school’s graduating class says he didn’t mean to use someone else’s work. Parkersburg High School Principal Kenny DeMoss issued a statement saying he should have cited his sources in the May 23 speech, but claimed the ideas were his own.
“I did not get all my ideas from Ashton. Format yes, thoughts and ideas were from my heart,” he wrote.
Parkersburg graduate Abby Smith posted a video to Facebook that spliced DeMoss’ address with Kutcher’s 2013 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards speech and has since amassed more than 110,000 views. The speeches used similar wording and at times featured identical phrasing.
Smith spoke with CBS affiliate WOWK about the video, and stressed the importance of DeMoss taking accountability for his actions.
“Originally I just uploaded it because I think that if his students and his other teachers are held to a standard of a zero tolerance policy for plagiarism that’s written in our school code of conduct, that he should be held to that same,” she told the station.
DeMoss said the widely-circulated video cut out a preface that was supposed to make clear he was going to be folding others’ ideas and thoughts into his speech.
“I began my speech, by saying ‘Many of you don’t know much about me other than being a principal, a teacher, or a coach. In these three professions, I have had the chance to hear and share many great ideas and thoughts that have helped me be who I am today, and I want to share that with you,'” DeMoss said.
“When I made that statement, that was my preface that these ideas and thoughts that I am about to share, I have heard before, from others, and along with my personal beliefs, have shaped me into who I am as a man, a father, and leader. In hindsight, I wish I would have cited more.”
In an email to The Associated Press, DeMoss said he’d moved past the incident. It’s unclear if he faces disciplinary action from the Wood County School District.