Case 1260

DATE: December 21, 2021
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. F.S. ("the Student")

HEARING DATE: November 8, 2021, via Zoom

Panel Members:
Mr. Bernard Fishbein, Chair
Professor Georges Farhat, Faculty Panel Member
Mr. Karim Wanes, Student Panel Member

Appearances:
Mr. Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Mr. William Webb, Co-Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP

Not in Attendance:
The Student

Hearing Secretary:
Ms. Krista Kennedy, Administrative Clerk & Hearing Secretary, Office of Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances

The Student was charged under s. B.i.3(a) of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, 1995 (the “Code”) on the basis that the Student knowingly forged or in any other way altered or falsified an academic record, and/or uttered, circulated or made use of such forged, altered or falsified record, namely, a document which purported to be a transcript and academic history from the University. The Student was also charged under s. B.i.3(a) of the Code on the basis that the Student falsified an academic record, and and/or uttered, circulated or made use of such a falsified record by claiming to have graduated from the University.

The Student did not attend the hearing and counsel for the University provided the Panel with an email chain which confirmed that the Student was aware of the hearing but chose not to attend. The Panel was satisfied that the hearing could proceed in the absence of the Student in these circumstances.

The Panel received an Agreed Statement of Facts (“ASF”) which outlined that the Student admitted that, as part of an application for employment, he represented that he had graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in marketing. The ASF further outlined that the Student had only earned 18 credits and had never graduated from the University. Furthermore, the ASF outlined that the Student knowingly misrepresented his academic record by stating that he had graduated from the University when he knew that statement was false. The Student also admitted that he knowingly misrepresented his academic record in his application for employment by altering and falsifying an unofficial copy of his transcript and by circulating it as part of his application for employment. The Panel noted that the ASF outlined that the Student acknowledged that he signed the ASF freely and voluntarily, knowing the potential consequences he faces, and did so having had the opportunity to seek advice of counsel. The Panel noted that the ASF outlined that the Office of Convocation received an email from an education verification service in Quebec seeking confirmation that the Student had graduated from the University with a Bachelor of Business Administration. Shortly thereafter, the education verification service sent a subsequent email attaching an unofficial transcript provided by the Student as part of his application for employment. The ASF furthered to outline that the unofficial transcript misrepresented the Student’s academic record and indicated that he had passed three courses, which he had actually failed. The University advised the education verification service that no degree had been granted by the University to the Student. Based on the contents of the ASF, in particular, the admissions of the Student contained therein, the Panel noted that the University had satisfied the onus on it to establish the violation of the Code by the Student. Therefore, the Panel found the Student guilty of the first charge. The University withdrew the second charge.

Prior to the hearing, the University and the Student entered into a Joint Submission on Penalty (“JSP”). The Panel noted that it ought not to depart from a penalty agreed upon by the parties unless it was “unhinged from the circumstances” or unreasonable. Counsel for the University submitted various cases that were previously decided by the Tribunal that involved this type of offence. In all of the cases, a recommendation for expulsion had been imposed regardless of whether it was a student’s first offence, regardless of whether a student participated and signed an ASF or JSP. The Panel imposed the following sanctions: immediate suspension from the University for up to five years; a recommendation that the Student be expelled, as per s. C.ii.(b)(i) of Code; and a report to the Provost for publication.