In January, former director of education Chris Spence was forced to apologize after two paragraphs of an article he wrote for the Toronto Star were found to be identical to an opinion piece published in a 1989 New York Times piece. In other places of the opinion piece he wrote for the Toronto newspaper, Spence had cribbed material from online sources.
Spence resigned a day after issuing his apology, and then-deputy director Donna Quan was appointed to the top job in the interim.
Quan appeared on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Wednesday and said Spence's resignation is a “very unfortunate incident” for the reputation of Canada's largest school board, which serves 260,000 students.
“The school board took a bruising,” Quan said. “I acknowledge that. Academic honesty is very important. It’s at the core of what we do in education.”
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Quan also addressed the results of a student survey released Tuesday that showed many students are worried about their future and experience significant levels of stress and anxiety.
“The students do feel less hopeful than we anticipated, which was a surprise to me,” said Quan. “It’s a wakeup call.”
She said the board will work to help students who are experiencing stress.
“The teachers have high expectations [of students],” Quan said. “Coupled with those high expectations should be some support.”
Quan said she hopes the board can combat the stress and anxiety students feel by making it a habit for staff to communicate with them on a daily basis.
“It’s having someone say ‘how are you doing today?’ and taking the time to listen."
She also pointed out the survey showed an increasing number of students enjoy coming to school, and that most find the schools a welcoming place where they feel accepted.