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'Criminal malfeasance' allegations stir controversy at school board meeting

Winnipeg School Division Trustee Mike Babinsky

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Winnipeg School Division Trustee Mike Babinsky

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/12/2014 (1666 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

​Winnipeg School Division board chair Mark Wasyliw furiously told trustees Monday night that trustee Mike Babinsky has accused unnamed persons within WSD of criminal malfeasance — without Babinsky offering any evidence or substantiation.

"As a criminal lawyer, I can't think of anything more serious than accusing someone of criminal malfeasance," Wasyliw told the board in public session.

Wasylow demanded Babinsky retract his accusations and apologize.

Babinsky refused.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/12/2014 (1666 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

​Winnipeg School Division board chair Mark Wasyliw furiously told trustees Monday night that trustee Mike Babinsky has accused unnamed persons within WSD of criminal malfeasance — without Babinsky offering any evidence or substantiation.

"As a criminal lawyer, I can't think of anything more serious than accusing someone of criminal malfeasance," Wasyliw told the board in public session.

Wasylow demanded Babinsky retract his accusations and apologize.

Babinsky refused.

Just before the board went in-camera Monday night, Wasyliw said in an interview he did not think another board censure motion against Babinsky was imminent, but repeated his fears Babinsky had left WSD vulnerable to legal action.

The dispute goes back to early June, when Babinsky tabled a motion over alleged busing problems last winter, which he has said left kids waiting far too long in freezing conditions. He wanted discipline taken against anyone responsible.

This past Friday, Babinsky emailed Justice Minister James Allum, with copies to the media, calling on Allum to launch an investigation into what Babinsky called the hiding and concealing and altering of facts in public records — the public minutes from the June meeting where Babinsky had tabled the motion.

Wasyliw said Monday night Babinsky was imputing criminal actions by taking his complaint to the justice minister. Wasyliw said Babinsky was well aware six months ago that public minutes were altered and "generalized" to protect the division from legal action. What Babinsky said in public session was sufficient to identify a specific employee, said Wasyliw.

"They did that to protect Winnipeg School Division from the potential of a slander suit," he said.

"Sensitive information has been redacted," he said Monday night, and employees who cannot defend themselves publicly have also been protected.

Wasyliw said Babinsky was part of those discussions in June, but he waited six months, until after the municipal election, to suddenly take his allegations of conspiracies and criminal malfeasance to the justice minister and the media.

Babinsky ignored Wasyliw's demands for a retraction and apology, and argued Monday night he'd done nothing wrong back in June.

"It doesn't come close to identifying anyone," said Babinsky, who maintained his concern is for kids left too long at school bus stops in freezing conditions.

Babinsky insisted he didn't do anything wrong by going to Allum. "I haven`t accused anyone, I requested an investigation," he said.

Trustee Kevin Freedman then challenged Babinsky to say whether he was alleging to Allum that the former board — six trustees are new as of Oct. 22 — violated the Public Schools Act.

Four times Freedman asked Babinsky for a simple yes or no, but Babinsky stuck to: "It is not a yes or no answer."

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History

Updated on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 9:37 AM CST: Corrects typo in cutline

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