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Arizona State Professor Accused of Plagiarism on Administrative Leave

TEMPE, Ariz. — An Arizona State University history professor accused of plagiarism is on administrative leave, school officials said Thursday.

Dr. Matthew Whitaker has been relieved of all duties, ASU spokesman Mark Johnson said. The school is reviewing allegations that Whitaker’s “conduct has fallen short of the university’s expectations for a faculty member and a scholar,” Johnson said. He declined further comment.

Whitaker terminated his consulting company’s $268,000 contract in July to train Phoenix police in cultural and community awareness amid concerns from the city of Phoenix over past plagiarism allegations. Last month, the city called for Whitaker to refund $21,900 he was already paid after it was revealed many of the training slides he used were taken from the Chicago Police Department. Chicago police provide training materials for free to law enforcement agencies.

Through an attorney, Whitaker has denied accusations that he copied or misused material from Chicago police. His attorney, Lonnie Williams Jr., said there was no reason to put him on leave because his contract dispute with the city of Phoenix has no bearing on his teaching.

“I have reviewed the policy of ASU relating to placing to someone on paid administrative leave. There would have to be evidence that that person’s presence on campus would be detrimental to the academic environment,” Williams said. “How does it affect his ability to teach students?”

Whitaker was recently demoted and given a pay cut after his book on Black America raised plagiarism allegations starting in 2014. A university review found “significant issues” involving use of material and sources. In response, Whitaker promised to correct the book and include an apology.

It was the second plagiarism accusation in four years. In 2011, a faculty member claimed another book had copied passages. But an ASU investigation did not find any substantial problems.

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