Chris Spence, former TDSB director of education, found guilty of professional misconduct

The Ontario College of Teachers has found Chris Spence, the former director of education at the Toronto District School Board, guilty of professional misconduct.

Chris Spence resigned in 2013 over allegations of plagiarism

The Ontario College of Teachers has found former TDSB director of education Chris Spence guilty of professional misconduct. (TDSB)

The Ontario College of Teachers has found Chris Spence, the former director of education at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), guilty of professional misconduct.

The college's discipline committee came to its decision on Nov. 11. According to a three-page decision posted to the college's website, the committee arrived at its decision after holding a hearing on Oct. 21 that Spence, who was representing himself in the proceedings, did not attend.

In its written decision, the committee said it determined that "the facts support a finding of professional misconduct." The three-member panel will meet in the coming months to discuss a penalty, Gabrielle Barkany, a spokesperson for the college, told CBC Toronto in an email.

Possible penalties include a suspension or revocation of Spence's teaching certificate, Barkany said. He could be also be ordered to take a course.

Even though Spence is retired, he is still under the college's jurisdiction in terms of a penalty, she said, because the misconduct happened while he was a member.

The committee will provide a written statement with its reasoning behind its findings when it decides on a punishment, Barkany said.

Ryan Bird, a spokesperson for the TDSB, said the board had no comment.

Spence did not respond to email and social media requests for comment from CBC Toronto.

A notice of hearing posted online included five allegations of professional misconduct. The allegations suggested Spence:

  • Failed to maintain the standards of the profession
  • Signed or issued, in his professional capacity, a document that he knew or ought to have known contained a false, improper or misleading statement
  • Failed to comply with the Education Act
  • Committed acts that, having regard to all the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional
  • Engaged in conduct unbecoming a member

The committee decision does not indicate which of the allegations Spence is guilty of.

Spence resigned nearly four years ago

The allegations go back to a plagiarism scandal from nearly four years ago that ultimately led Spence to quit his job at the TDSB.

Spence resigned in January 2013 "with a profoundly heavy heart" after admitting to plagiarizing passages in an opinion piece for the Toronto Star.

CBC News also found that a portion of Spence's 1996 PhD dissertation on the education of black male athletes appeared to contain passages lifted from another source, a chapter by Othello Harris in a 1991 book entitled Sport, Racism and Ethnicity.

Calls for his ouster intensified after other articles by Spence surfaced with passages that may have been plagiarized.