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Stand-Up Act

Christine Pelton has made quite a name for herself after blowing the whistle on plagiarism by 28 of her Piper, Kan., sophomores on a biology project, and then resigning her teaching job after the school board watered down their penalties.

The Kansas House of Representatives gave Ms. Pelton two standing ovations during her May 9 visit to the chamber. She spoke to House members about her belief that education involves more than academic subjects, and includes holding students to high moral standards and codes of ethics. ("Plagiarism Controversy Engulfs Kansas School," April 3, 2002.)

Rep. John M. Toplikar said he invited Ms. Pelton because lawmakers had not focused on educational quality in school aid debates.

"I just wanted to direct attention, at least for a moment, this year to someone who actually gave up their job to see that quality is maintained in the grading system," he said.

He and two other Republican members handed the teacher a certificate commending her for demonstrating "the highest respect for quality in academics and commitment to ethical standards in her profession."

But Ms. Pelton, who has been on numerous TV news programs talking about why she resigned, was nearly denied a chance to speak the legislators, when staff members of House Speaker Kent Glasscock, also a Republican, cited a little-used rule that bars guests from speaking to the assembly, Mr. Toplikar said.

"We recognize sports teams—football, basketball, even bowling teams—and let coaches go to the microphone and make a few words in accepting congratulatory comments," Mr. Toplikar said. He secured Ms. Pelton's spot by using a parliamentary maneuver that would have been embarrassing to oppose.

Speaker Glasscock's office did not respond to a request for comment.

As for Ms. Pelton, she said she has signed a movie contract that bars her from giving more interviews about her experience.

—Andrew Trotter

Vol. 21, Issue 37, Page 20

Published in Print: May 22, 2002, as State Journal

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