DATE: December 17, 2019
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. J.G. (“the Student”)
HEARING DATE(S): September 20, 2019
Mr. Dean Embry, Chair
Professor Gabriele D'Eleuterio, Faculty Panel Member
Ms. Madison Bruno, Student Panel Member
Ms. Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Not in Attendance:
Ms. Jennifer Dent, Associate Director, Office of the Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances, University of Toronto
The Student was charged with two counts of forgery under s. B.i.1(a) of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, 1995 (the “Code”) on the basis that he knowingly submitted two petitions including forged University Verification of Student Illness or Injury Forms in support of two requests for academic accommodation. The Student was charged with a third offence, which was later withdrawn.
Neither the Student nor a legal representative of the Student appeared at the hearing. The University provided evidence demonstrating that the Student had been served with the charges and Notice of Hearing by email to the email address provided in ROSI, and that it had made extraordinary efforts to ensure the Student was aware of the hearing and was in a position to attend. The Panel found that the Student was provided with reasonable notice and proper service in accordance with sections 14 and 9 of the Tribunal’s Rules of Practice and Procedures. The hearing proceeded in the Student’s absence.
On two occasions, the Student submitted (1) a petition requesting to write an exam on a deferred date, and (2) a Verification of Student Illness form to the Office of the Registrar in support of each petition. The petitions pertained to two different courses and were granted. The Student did not attend to write either deferred final exam. During the University’s periodic review of retained documentation, the Student’s forms raised suspicion because they resembled similar documents that had been submitted in other matters that had proved to be inauthentic. Contrary to the information provided in the Student’s forms, the University discovered that the doctor named in the forms had never seen the Student as a patient.
The Panel concluded that the University had proven all charges and found the Student guilty of two counts of forgery.
In determining the sanctions, the Panel noted that there was no evidence that the forged documents had been purchased. It agreed with the University’s submission that the fact that the forgeries were used in an accommodation seeking context and that the Student had a previous finding of guilt in an academic offence were significant aggravating factors. According to the Panel, the Student’s failure to engage with the process was not an aggravating factor. While recognizing the University’s extraordinary efforts to provide the Student with notice and information to secure his participation in the process, the Panel stated that it would be unfair to allow these efforts to effectively enhance the sanction by considering a lack of response to extraordinary efforts aggravating.
The Panel imposed the following sanctions: a final grade of zero in each course, a five-year suspension, a notation of this sanction to be placed on the Student’s academic record and transcript for a period of six years; and that the case be reported to the Provost for publication of a notice of the decision and the sanctions imposed, with the name of the Student withheld.