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RPA GRIEVANCE CASE AND DISCIPLINARY ACTION

 

On August 18, 2015 a complaint of professional misconduct was filed against a Registered Professional Archaeologist (RPA), with the RPA Grievance Coordinator. The complainant alleged that the RPA had plagiarized report organization and content from reports produced by the complainant’s company without credit or attribution. After preliminary inquiries indicated that there might be substance to the allegations, a Grievance Committee was appointed to investigate the allegations. The Committee investigated the accused’s professional conduct in connection with the plagiarism. The Committee concluded that the accused was in violation of Sections I.1.2 (c), II.2.1 (a) and II.2.2 (b) of RPA’s Code of Conduct. The Committee recommended that the accused’s registration be terminated.

 

The committee found substantial evidence that the accused’s professional conduct had been in violation of the Register’s Code and Standards. Specifically, the findings of the Committee were as follows:

  • Violation 1 (Code of Conduct I.1.2 [c]). The accused misrepresented research by the complainant’s company (including background research, culture histories, and methods) as his own research and information.
  • Violation 2 (Code of Conduct II.2.1 [a]). The accused failed to give appropriate credit for work done by others by plagiarizing archaeological reports prepared by the complainant’s company without attribution or permission.
  • Violation 3 (Code of Conduct II.2.2 [b]). The accused committed plagiarism in written communication by incorporating substantial portions of archaeological reports prepared by the complainant’s company verbatim without attribution.

In consideration of these findings, the Grievance Committee has concluded that the accused has violated Sections I.1.2 (c), II.2.1 (a) and II.2.2 (b) of RPA’s Code of Conduct. These sections read as follows:

 

Violation 1. (Code of Conduct)

I. The Archaeologist’s Responsibility to the Public

I.1.2 An archaeologist shall not: (c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation about archaeological matters.

 

Violation 2. (Code of Conduct)

II. The Archaeologist’s Responsibility to Colleagues, Employees, and Students

I.2.1 An archaeologist shall: (a) give appropriate credit for work done by others.

 

Violation 3. (Code of Conduct)

II. The Archaeologist’s Responsibility to Colleagues, Employees, and Students

II.2.2 An archaeologist shall not: (b) commit plagiarism in oral or written communication.

 

The Grievance Committee recommended that the accused registration by the Register of Professional Archaeologists be terminated.

 

The Standard Board agreed with this recommendation and the Disciplinary action taken was to terminate the accused’s RPA registration effective January 1, 2016.  The accused may not, and shall not, reapply for registration prior to January 1, 2019.

 

 


 

Grievance Coordinator Report, Jan –Dec 2015

Douglas R. Mitchell

 

This year (2015) has been my first full year as Grievance Coordinator and there has been considerable activity.   I have been approached in eleven instances for grievances or possible grievances.  In all situations, the initial step has been to determine whether a person was an RPA at the time they were accused of violating the RPA Code and Standards.  Dawn Lipsey, RPA Managing Director, has been very timely and helpful providing this information to me. 

 

Inquiries

In three situations, I was contacted about potential Grievances but the complainants did not submit a Grievance Initiation Form and these potential cases are considered closed unless additional information is submitted. 

 

A fourth situation, my first actual case, involved submission of a Grievance Initiation Form concerning a person accused of receiving documents and other items on loan and never returning them.  The person was not an RPA at the time of receipt of the items but later became a registrant, while still allegedly holding the items.  Discussions with the complainant and the accused led me to determine that neither the Code nor Standards had been violated so I closed the case, without convening a committee.

A fifth situation involved submission of a Grievance Initiation Form concerning a potential situation in Canada.  The alleged violation occurred prior to the person being an RPA.  I asked the complainant to refile a GIF if he/she thought that violations occurred after the alleged had become an RPA.  I have not received a revised form at this time.

Sixth, I was contacted in mid December 2015 about a potential Grievance but I have not yet received a Grievance Initiation Form.

 

Grievance Committee Cases

Four cases have warranted formation of a Grievance Committee.  In all these cases I have retained the position of Grievance Coordinator.  However, due to the case load (3 of these all occurred at the same in the summer of 2015), the geographical nature of the cases, and the subject content of the cases, I selected RPAs to serve as the Grievance Committee chairs, under my overall supervision.   I have also consulted with Nick Sack, the attorney who assists RPA with Grievance issues, about two of the specific cases and for general advice on the grievance procedures.

1.       A Grievance Initiation Form was submitted, preliminary investigations were conducted, and the accused was informed of the Grievance and provided an opportunity to respond to the accusations. A committee was formed, led by Dr. Jim Bruseth (former GC) and two committee members.  The committee’s findings were that it could not conclude that violations of the RPA’s Code or Standards had occurred and that no disciplinary action be taken against the respondent.

 

2.       Another case was submitted to me by a law firm on behalf of the complainant.  After initial receipt of the Grievance Initiation Form in July, preliminary investigation, and communication with the accused RPA, a committee was formed, led by Dr. Kay Simpson (former GC) and two committee members.  The committee’s findings were that it could not conclude that violations of the RPA’s Code or Standards had occurred and that no disciplinary action be taken against the respondent.

 

3.       Case sent to the Standards Board. A Grievance Initiation Form was submitted for a case that involved alleged plagiarism.  After some investigation, and communication with the accused RPA, a committee was formed, led by Mr. Dennis Gilpin (former Registrar) and two committee members.  The Grievance Committee issued a report that concluded that the respondent violated Sections I.1.2 (c), II.2.1 (a) and II.2.2 (b) of RPA’s Code of Conduct. Further, the Grievance Committee recommended that the respondent’s registration by the Register of Professional Archaeologists be terminated.  Following the RPA disciplinary procedures, I submitted a formal complaint to the chair of the Standard’s Board, Dr. Linda Stine.  The Standard’s Board may elect to hold a Hearing concerning the case, or a Hearing can be waived if the respondent and the GC reach an agreement and the respondent agrees to the recommended disciplinary action.  This process is underway but it is likely that the respondent will agree to the disciplinary action that will include termination from the Register and publication of this action. 

 

4.       I received a Grievance Initiation form for a complaint in Canada.  After preliminary investigation, and communication with the accused RPA, I am in the process of forming a Grievance Committee.  A chair has been selected and is seeking committee members.  The committee’s investigations will likely occur early in 2016.

 

Potential Case

It was brought to my attention through RPA colleagues about a situation of archaeologists accused of taking artifacts from federal lands without a permit.  Two of the accused archaeologists are RPAs.  This case is under civil investigation and may lead to a Grievance although a complaint has not been filed yet.

 

RPA Election Irregularity

An email was sent to me during the RPA elections concerning an irregularity. That matter was resolved by myself and the President.

 

Affiliated RPAs

In the course of inquiring about the membership status of individuals, it has come to our attention that some people’s status is listed as ‘affiliated’.  Pat Garrow and I asked Dawn Lipsey about this situation and she responded as follows:

I spread the word out to some seasoned staff members to find out the history of “affiliated.”  This is what I was told.  Before RPA created the Affiliated Societies Program, their individual registrants were divided into two categories upon joining: Affiliated or Unaffiliated.  RPA applicants were assigned the Affiliated status if they maintained a membership with one of the four partner associations listed on the website. (AAA, AIA, SAA, SHA)  If they said they were affiliated with one of the four, we assigned them “affiliated” status.  It would have been my hope that Nick [the former Managing Director] would have mentioned this when naming the new program Affiliated Societies as to not cause confusion with the “Affiliated” term already in use.

While this is not really a Grievance issue, the RPA Board may want to clarify this situation in the near future so as not to cause confusion.

 

Grievance Coordinator Advisory Committee

At the January 2015 Board meeting, a motion was made by President Pat Garrow to create a Grievance Coordinator Advisory Committee.  This committee was to consist of two former Grievance Coordinators.  Pat and I amended this to include 3 former GCs on the committee.  This committee is formed and includes Dr. Kay Simpson, Dr. Jim Bruseth, and Ms. Joan Deming.  This committee’s composition and member’s contact information is posted on the RPA website.  I called on the committee for advice several times this past summer, which was very helpful.

 


 

Resources

 

Code of Conduct

Standards of Research Performance

Grievance Complaint Initiation Form

Disciplinary Procedures of the Register of Professional Archaeologists

Manual for Grievance Coordinators

The Day-to-Day Duties of the Grievance Coordinator by R. Berle Clay – Reprinted with permission from The SAA Archaeological Record, volume 6, number 2.

 


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