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Nothing in place for reporting harassment by WSD trustees

Probe continues into staffer's accusation

Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/7/2015 (1436 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

No formal mechanism exists for a Winnipeg School Division employee to complain internally about harassment by a school trustee, school board chairman Mark Wasyliw revealed Thursday.

Wasyliw said he and Education Minister James Allum have been kept up to speed about the ongoing investigation into allegations of harassment committed by an unidentified school trustee, which investigator John Wiens cited in his scathing report on WSD governance released Tuesday.

But no one will identify the trustee, when or where the alleged harassment occurred, or even if the trustee is a current member of the board.

Wasyliw said chief superintendent Pauline Clarke turned to an outside investigator. Wasyliw said the alleged victim is a senior staff member, and he does not believe there was anything sexual about the alleged harassment.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/7/2015 (1436 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

No formal mechanism exists for a Winnipeg School Division employee to complain internally about harassment by a school trustee, school board chairman Mark Wasyliw revealed Thursday.

Wasyliw said he and Education Minister James Allum have been kept up to speed about the ongoing investigation into allegations of harassment committed by an unidentified school trustee, which investigator John Wiens cited in his scathing report on WSD governance released Tuesday.

But no one will identify the trustee, when or where the alleged harassment occurred, or even if the trustee is a current member of the board.

Wasyliw said chief superintendent Pauline Clarke turned to an outside investigator. Wasyliw said the alleged victim is a senior staff member, and he does not believe there was anything sexual about the alleged harassment.

Allum refused Thursday to reveal any details of the alleged harassment, and said any questions must go to Wiens — who has not responded to interview requests sent to his email account at the University of Manitoba, where he is an education professor. Clarke has declined to be interviewed.

But Wasyliw said Allum is in the loop and the division is taking advice from the minister.

"As chair of the board, I have been kept up to date about the harassment complaint and the process that has been undertaken. Given that it is a personnel issue, the board of trustees have not been briefed on the specifics of the issue as of yet," Wasyliw said.

"I can tell you that there is no formal mechanism for a staff member to complain about a trustee. A trustee is not an employee per se of the division. (Clarke) has been dealing with this issue from the beginning and has been consulting regularly with (the Education Department) as to how they would like us to properly deal with this situation given the lack of precedent or processes. We are following, and complying with, the minister's direction.

"Mr. Wiens didn't ask about this issue with either myself or the superintendent," said Wasyliw. "If he had, I could have confirmed that this matter had been investigated by an outside agency, a report had been made, the trustee notified and allowed to respond. The process is still ongoing and to my knowledge has not been resolved."

Allum similarly would not talk Thursday about accusations Wiens should have declared a conflict of interest for his alleged involvement in the campaign of a losing school board candidate last fall.

"Dr. Wiens is a long-serving and highly regarded education expert in Manitoba. We have accepted his report as delivered. As author of the report, questions regarding his findings should be addressed by him," Allum said in a statement emailed by an aide.

Wiens told Allum in a scathing report released Tuesday that Allum should fire the WSD school board on New Year's Eve unless it cleans up its act of shameful, reckless dysfunction.

Wasyliw, who issued his own equally scathing 16-page response to Allum that attacks Wiens' methods and conclusions, said Wiens should have disclosed a conflict of interest, especially given Wiens' criticism of finance chairwoman Sherri Rollins.

Wasyliw said Wiens allegedly both recruited and campaigned for another candidate — whose mother works on Wiens' staff — who lost in the Ward 1 school board race to Rollins.

Allum reiterated by email he has given WSD until the end of August to develop a plan to implement Wiens' 22 recommendations by Dec. 31.

"The Winnipeg School Division trustees are locally elected, and we expect that the administration and the board will follow up on the specific concerns raised in this report. They have indicated their willingness to do that, and we trust them to do so," Allum wrote. "The report provides concrete recommendations for the school board on how to address concerns over transparency and governance, and we look forward to seeing the division's implementation plan by the end of August."

Allum declined to answer questions from the Free Press seeking clarification of which issues and behaviours raised by Wiens occurred before six of the nine trustees he has recommended the minister fire first took office in early November.

"Mr. Wiens did not actually do a governance review," Wasyliw insisted Thursday. "It is troubling to me that the minister seems unconcerned about the fairness and impartiality of the process, and therefore, the very quality and nature of the report and the information contained in it."

The John Wiens report on Winnipeg School Division Governance Review can be found at wfp.to/wsdgovernancereview.

The response of WSD school board chairman Mark Wasyliw to the governance review can be found at wfp.to/wasilywresponse.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Friday, July 10, 2015 at 5:53 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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