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Source: Grand Forks Herald, June 6, 1997
 

N.D. COURT SAYS FORMER UND STUDENT'S PLAGIARISM LAWSUIT CAN CONTINUE
Dale Wetzel, Associated Press

The superintendent of a Wahpeton school for American Indian children may continue her plagiarism lawsuit against a UND professor and an agency administrator, the state Supreme Court has ruled.

Joyce Burr's $3 million lawsuit stems from her days as a UND doctoral student more than seven years ago. Since June 1995, she has been superintendent of the Circle of Nations boarding school.

Burr's administration has won praise for turning around the school, which had been torn by incidents of violence and vandalism. The Bureau of Indian Affairs had threatened to cut off financial aid unless Burr's predecessor, Robert Hall, was fired.

South Central District Judge Dennis Schneider threw out her lawsuit, saying Burr was too late in filing it. But the Supreme Court concluded Wednesday that Burr had more time than Schneider believed.

"I want to go forward with this. I expect that we'll go to court," Burr said Wednesday. "We're not going to let this go."

Burr, 51, contends Donald Lemon, a UND professor of education, and Cheryl Kulas, who is now director of Indian education at the state Department of Public Instruction, stole a questionnaire Burr compiled as part of her research for a doctorate.

Kulas and Lemon, who was Burr's faculty adviser, have denied any wrongdoing and said they meant no harm to Burr.

Burr said the information was taken from her UND office while she was suffering from kidney problems in the late 1980s. She had a transplant in March 1992.

Burr's doctoral thesis was meant to measure the impact of a 1981 education rule that required North Dakota teaching hopefuls to be trained in American Indian studies.

While Burr was ill, Lemon gave another UND professor, Richard Landry, permission to use Burr's questionnaire, court filings say.

Landry provided the material to Kulas. She used it to conduct a similar survey and complete her master's thesis at the University of Arizona, documents indicate. Lemon, in court filings, says he did not speak to Kulas about her own research.

Landry used Kulas' survey work to publish a research paper for the Department of Public Instruction, the Supreme Court's ruling says. Burr settled a lawsuit against Landry out of court.

When Burr attempted to complete her doctoral thesis, she was told she would have to rework it to be awarded a degree, She left UND in December 1991 and moved to Minot.