A West Virginia principal was suspended without pay for five days after students accused him of plagiarizing Ashton Kutcher during an address to graduating seniors last month.
Parkersburg High School Principal Kenny DeMoss apologized for his May remarks on Tuesday before the Wood County Board of Education, which voted 4-1 for his suspension, the News and Sentinel reported.
The decision comes in wake of a Facebook video shared by graduate Abby Smith, which features her principal’s graduation remarks spliced together with a speech Kutcher previously delivered at the Teen Choice Awards. She and her classmates noticed glaring similarities between the pair of addresses and created the now-viral clip to highlight DeMoss’ plagiarism.
Kutcher delivered his remarks after collecting the “Ultimate Achievement Award” in 2013, telling an audience of screaming adolescents that his success is comprised of three things: “The first thing is opportunity,” he said. “The second thing Is about being sexy, and the third is about living life.”
Echoing the “That 70s Show” star, DeMoss shared similar facets of success for the graduating class.
“The first thing is about opportunity, the second thing is about being intriguing, and the third is about living life,” he proclaimed.
Both speeches continue similarly, with each also referencing very similar jobs from their childhoods. Kutcher in his remarks recalled working with his father at a construction site, where he carried shingles up and down the ladder. DeMoss did the same.
Smith’s video of both speeches has since been viewed by more than 160,000 people – including the “Dude Where’s my Car” actor himself.
“‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.’ – Oscar Wilde. *cite your sources kids and faculty,” Kutcher wrote in a cheeky tweet on Saturday.
DeMoss, who did not cite Kutcher when he gave his speech, defended his remarks amid public backlash. On Tuesday though, he did not try to avoid the blame in his apology before the school board.
“My intent in speaking tonight is to say I’m sorry. I am a proud graduate of PHS, have coached for 25 years and have been an administrator for seven years in this community. I would never purposefully bring shame to myself, my family, my school, our school system, or our community,” he said.