Case #848

Case 848 - Appeal
DATE: November 2, 2016

PARTIES: University of Toronto v. D.H. (“the Student”)
Hearing Date(s): March 16, 2016 and August 9, 2016
Panel Members:
Mr. John A. Keefe, Barrister and Solicitor, Chair
Professor Gabriele D’Eluterio, Faculty Member
Ms. Alice Zhu, Student Panel Member
Appearances:
Ms. Tina Lie, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Palaire Roland Barristers
Mr. Glenroy Bastien, Counsel for The Student
Professor John Britton, Dean’s Designate, Office of Student Academic Integrity (March 16, 2016)
Dr. Kristi Gourlay, Manager, Office of Student Academic Integrity, Faculty of Arts and Science
In Attendance:
Mr. Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline, and Faculty Grievances (March 16, 2016)
Krista Osbourne, Administrative Assistant, Appeals, Discipline, and Faculty Grievances (August 9, 2016)
The Student
Trial Division – s. B.i.3(a) and s.B.ii.2 of Code – forged academic records and intent to commit an offence - student ordered transcripts after disciplinary sanction was imposed but before notation was made on transcript for the purpose of employment, immigration, and professional licensing – Agreed Statement of Facts – guilty plea – third offence – prior convictions included falsification of academic record and academic dishonesty – deliberate offence – contested hearing on sanction - Agreed Statement of Facts on Penalty – University submission on Penalty accepted – recommendation that Student be expelled per s. C.ii.(b)(i) of the Code, interim notation until Governing Council makes decision on expulsion, and report issued to Provost
The Student was charged with two offences for attempting to circulate falsified academic records pursuant to s. B.i.3(a) and s. B.ii.2 of the Code, or alternatively, three charges under s. B.i.3(b), s. B.ii.2 and B.i.3(a) of the Code. The charges related to the Student’s attempt to order transcripts and obtain letters of good standing from the University once he had learned that he had been suspended for three years, but before the notation had been recorded on his record in the University system. The Panel convened for an initial hearing and then a subsequent sanction hearing. At the initial hearing, the matter proceeded based upon an Agreed Statement of Facts. The Student pled guilty to the charges under s. B.i.3(a) and s. B.ii.2 of the Code. Upon the Panel’s finding of guilt on the two charges relating to s. B.i.3(a) and s. B.ii.2 of the Code, the University withdrew the remaining charges.
The sanction hearing proceeded by way of Agreed Statement of Facts on Penalty which indicated that the Student had been guilty of two prior academic offences. The Student’s first offence was academic dishonesty relating to an incident where he altered and re-submitted a test to be re-graded. He pled guilty and was sanctioned to a zero on the test and resulting reduction in his course mark, as well as a notation on his academic transcript for two years. The Student’s second academic offence was for forging or otherwise falsifying his academic record. Those charges related to an application for employment where the Student submitted a transcript that omitted the notation of academic dishonesty from the prior year. The Panel considered the Student’s mitigating circumstance of mental health issues and sanctioned the Student to a suspension for a period of up to three years; a notation on the Student’s academic record for four years; and a report to the Provost. The reasons for that decision were available on May 19, 2015. Although the normal practice was to immediately record the Panel’s decision on the Repository of Student Information (ROSI), out of a concern for the Student’s mental health, the Panel also postponed making the notation the Student’s record until after the Student had the opportunity to read the decision with counsellors present, on June 1, 2015.
On June 2, 2015, the Student ordered ten transcripts, knowing the sanction had not yet been implemented on ROSI. On June 3, 2015, he requested that Woodsworth College provide letters on his behalf to Canada Immigration, CPA Ontario, and “To Whom It May Concern” stating that he was a student in good standing at the University and that he was expected to graduate in the Summer of 2017. The Student knew that the transcripts that he had ordered online and the letters that he had requested did not reflect his academic record and he admitted that he intended to make use of them.
The Panel found that the Student’s actions were not spontaneous, but deliberate, since they took place over a three-day period. The Panel found that it was particularly troubling that the Student took advantage of the Panel’s sympathetic treatment because of the Student’s fragile emotional state, but then took immediate steps to obtain transcripts that he knew were false. Aggravating considerations were that the charge of falsification of an academic record is a very serious offence, this was the Student’s third offence, and it occurred immediately after he received a three-year suspension for his second offence. The Panel considered mitigating circumstances that there was an Agreed Statement of Facts and an Agreed Statement of Facts on Penalty, that the Student admitted guilt at a very early stage, he attended the hearing, and that the Student was suffering from severe mental distress at the time the offence was committed. The Panel found that there was a pattern of dishonest conduct and prior convictions, and recommended that the Student be expelled, an interim notation until Governing Council makes decision on expulsion, and that the case be reported to the Provost.