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Chris Spence applied for top jobs months after allegations

Former Toronto District School Board director Chris Spence, is interviewed in Toronto, Ontario Thursday, July 25, 2013.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Chris Spence applied for the top position at two public school boards just months after stepping down as leader of Canada's largest board amid allegations of plagiarism, The Globe and Mail has learned.

Dr. Spence submitted an application in May for director of education at the Greater Essex County District School Board, which oversees schools in Windsor, Ont. Trustees interviewed him in June, sources say. He did not get the job.

He also applied for the same position at the Waterloo Region District School Board, but was not granted an interview, sources say.

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Neither board would comment on Friday.

Dr. Spence stepped down in January as director of the Toronto District School Board after allegations of plagiarism in his personal blog and newspaper opinion pieces. The University of Toronto is investigating whether Dr. Spence plagiarized parts of his 1996 PhD dissertation.

Earlier this week, Dr. Spence spoke to selected media outlets, including The Globe and Mail, for the first time since his resignation.

He said he accepts responsibility for the plagiarism that led to his departure, but also said his research assistants are partly to blame for the unattributed material.

He said he came forward as part of a healing process, and to slowly rebuild his reputation and return to the education field.

"I want to be in education. I'm an educator and that's what I want to get back to doing," he said in an interview.

Dr. Spence did not respond to an e-mail on Friday for comment on his job search.

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In an interview at a Toronto hotel earlier in the week, when asked if he had tried to return to education, Dr. Spence responded: "I haven't been in the state of mind, really.

"Like I said, I've been deeply depressed. I know that soon I'm going to have to dust off the résumé and get myself out there and hopefully get back to work."

Dr. Spence was often described as a charismatic, innovative leader.

He was wooed to the TDSB in 2009 from the Hamilton-Wentworth school board, where he was director.

During his time at the TDSB, he proposed the idea of a boys' academy as part of a strategy to help struggling students, and he was a key advocate for the board's first Africentric school.

The TDSB has started its search for a new director, and trustees will have to determine whether they want another innovative leader or someone more operations-minded to lead the $2.9-billion organization.

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