U Of T Investigates Former TDSB Director For Cheating

A diagram to explain plagiarism. Image: Carrot Lord
A diagram to explain plagiarism. Image: Carrot Lord

The former director of Canada’s largest school board is being investigated for cheating on an important document he wrote during his university days, according to The Globe and Mail newspaper.

Chris Spence quit his job as head of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) in January 2013 after some people accused him of having “plagiarized.” Plagiarism is when you write down someone’s else’s words as though they were your own.

Some of Chris Spence’s writing—in newspaper articles and a blog—was plagiarized from other people’s work. Spence did not say that someone else had written the passages, leaving the reader to assume it was Spence’s work.

Now, the University of Toronto is worried that he may also have plagiarized parts of his university dissertation, a type of essay he wrote to obtain his degree, a PhD.

Some people from the university are going to hold a meeting, similar to a court hearing, to find out whether Spence cheated on this important essay back in 1996.

Spence’s lawyer told The Globe and Mail that he is hoping the charges will be dropped because it has been more than a year since Spence was accused of cheating.

The Globe and Mail found that passages from Dr. Spence’s 1996 dissertation appear copied from unattributed (unnamed) sources, and one section relies heavily on a 1991 book edited by Grant Jarvie, Sport, Racism and Ethnicity,” the Globe reported on Tuesday.

When Spence was first accused of cheating more than a year ago, he said in a message on the TDSB’s website that he was “ashamed and embarrassed” by what he had done and said he would take an ethics course to make sure he didn’t do anything like that again.

Related link

Read TKN’s article about the first accusations of plagiarism against Spence. This article includes links to his original work and the sources it may have been taken from.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Can you explain what plagiarism is in your own words?

What happens if someone in your grade or school is caught plagiarizing? What are the consequences?

What consequence do you think Chris Spence should have to face if he is accused of cheating?  

Reading Prompt: Point of View
There are different points of view in this article, including that of Chris Spence (and his lawyer), the Toronto District School Board and the University of Toronto. What are their different points of view?

Are there any other points of view that should be included when this story is explained?

Identify the point of view presented in texts, ask questions to identify missing or possible alternative points of view, and suggest some possible alternative perspectives (OME, Reading: 1.9).

Identify the point of view presented in texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts; give evidence of any biases they may contain; and suggest other possible perspectives (OME, Reading: 1.9).

Language Feature: Italics
Italics are words that are written so they slant to the right. In the article, italics are used several times for different reasons. Find all the times that italics are used and explain why the journalist italicized these words.