City schools ethics panel: And then there were four

Just hours after The Baltimore Sun broke the news that a longtime Towson University professor, Benjamin Neil, was under investigation for allegations that he plagiarized several of his academic articles, the city schools ethics panel webpage underwent a rapid revision.

The Sun had been investigating several of Neil's papers for more than a week when it received word that Neil, who had denied any wrongdoing in a March 25 interview, had resigned his post as the chair of the school district's ethics panel. His attorney said March 28 he resigned so he wouldn't be a distraction.

And the school district moved quickly to ensure he wasn't: Neil was cropped out of the panel's group photo, just hours after The Sun published its story.

"City Schools has accepted the resignation of Benjamin Neil as chair of its Ethics Panel," read a statement under the cropped photo. "We thank Mr. Neil for volunteering for this service."

Neil was appointed chair of the ethics panel in July 2012. In the meeting minutes, which you can read here, he was introduced by school board President Neil Duke as part of the highly qualified panel.

Duke said that he was chosen as chair based on his "acumen, his confidence, and just being an all around good guy."

Duke went on to elaborate on Neil's extensive academic and legal background, including the fact that "he has published numerous academic journal articles on various legal topics, as well as presenting at a number of academic conferences, both nationally and internationally."

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