Toronto school board director admits plagiarism in Toronto Star piece

Toronto Star | National Post

Chris Spence lifted passages from The New York Times and other sources for an opinion piece published January 5 in the Toronto Star. Spence is the director of education for Toronto's school board.

“I was careless and sloppy and rushed, and I should have given credit to some of the work that I used,” Spence told Star education reporter Kristin Rushowy. The board's chair said Spence "sees this as an honest mistake, but something that needs to be corrected."

A note from Star Public Editor Kathy English perches atop Spence's article, acknowledging the plagiarism and listing the sources Spence pilfered:

Those sources include the "Coaching Excellence" blog of the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, the blog, Pro Sport Chick, an online encyclopedia and a 1989 Op-Ed article in the New York Times written by Anita L. Defrantz, then president of the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles and a current member of the International Olympic Committee.

The Star article "makes Spence’s offence sound considerably less grievous than it is," Chris Selley writes in the National Post, who calls it "the worst case of plagiarism I have ever seen in a newspaper" and provides side-by-side comparisons of Spence's plagiarized passages with the originals.

"There is no excuse for what I did," Spence said in a letter posted on the school board's site Wednesday.

Earlier this month, the Star apologized after learning one of its reporters lifted material from The Globe and Mail.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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