Chris Spence, former Director of Education of the TDSB (Photo: RENE JOHNSTON/TORONTO STAR)

Chris Spence, former Director of Education of the TDSB (Photo: Rene Johnston/Toronto Star)

Chris Spence resigned from his post of TDSB Director of Education after admitting to plagiarizing several published articles and presenting them as his own work.

“It is with great sadness and regret that I am writing to tender my resignation as Director of Education for the Toronto District School Board,” wrote Spence in a letter released on Thursday. “More than anything else, I regret that I have not set a good or proper example for the many thousands of young people I’ve been privileged to meet and know. I intend to continue to do the things I pledged to do — to restore my reputation, and to uphold the academic integrity I consider to be so important. But most importantly, to make amends for what I have done.”

Spence came under scrutiny earlier this week when the Toronto Star reported that his recent op-ed piece stitched together passages from several other sources, including The New York Times.

He openly acknowledged these allegations in a public apology posted on the TDSB website on Wednesday. “Earlier this month, I wrote an op-ed for the Toronto Star,” wrote Spence. “I wrote that op-ed and — in no less than five different instances — I did not give proper credit for the work of others. I did not attribute their work.”

Spence in his apology compared his situation to that of a student caught plagiarizing, and acknowledged the tarnished example set for the students across the board.

After a TDSB student is found to have plagiarized, the “minimum consequence” is a mark of zero and the notification of others. In my case, neither of those consequences is nearly enough. I am not a student anymore; I am an adult, and an educator. I should know better. And I must set a clear example for the nearly 250,000 students at the TDSB.

Now a wealth of plagiarism allegations has come forward. The National Post discovered on Thursday that a recent blog post in which Spence discussed the Sandy Hook shooting with his son strongly resembled an article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“His job is to be a good director and that’s exactly what he is,” commented Student Trustee Kourosh Houshmand regarding Mr. Spence’s apology on Wednesday. “We cannot overlook the good that he has done for the TDSB.” Student Trustee Hirad Zafari supported the opinion: “[Spence] has always been an advocate for the student voice, and was always prepared to take on new ideas in Toronto’s public board. I guess it just teaches all students a lesson: there is no excuse for plagiarism.”

TDSB Chair Chris Bolton said in a statement that the TDSB is “taking steps to appoint an interim Director to ensure stability across the system”.