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TDSB head Chris Spence resigns after admitting to plagiarism

Toronto District School Board (TDSB) education director Chris Spence has resigned after admitting he plagiarized sections of an article published in the Toronto Star.

“I have come to this decision after a great deal of reflection, and no small amount of consultation with family, friends and colleagues. I do so with a profoundly heavy heart,” Spence wrote in a letter to TDSB chair Chris Bolton on Thursday.

“My life’s work has been education, and the education of young people.  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.”

Spence’s resignation was effective immediately.

At a news conference Thursday, Bolton said TDSB deputy director Donna Quan would take over in the interim. The board will meet on Friday, at which time Bolton will ask that Quan remain in the position until a formal search for a successor takes place.

Bolton said Spence made the decision to resign on his own and that he was “very upset and remorseful.”  The board “did not take disciplinary action,” he confirmed.

On Wednesday, Spence admitted to plagiarizing five passages in an opinion piece on the importance of extracurricular activities that was published in the Star on Saturday.

“I did not give proper credit for the work of others. I did not attribute their work. There is no excuse for what I did,” he said in an apology posted on the TDSB’s website.

Spence said he was “ashamed and embarrassed” and vowed to take steps to change, including taking a course on journalism ethics.

But what at first appeared to be an isolated incident soon began to look like an ignominious case of serial plagiarism when the Globe and Mail and the National Post published stories Thursday that found numerous instances where Spence seemed to be lifting the work of others without credit.