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Teacher pulled from classroom

Division probes Facebook post that slams aboriginals

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/12/2014 (1744 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Teachers are teachers 24 hours a day -- they're held to higher standards, says a professional creed that's about to be put to the test after scathing attacks on aboriginal people on a teacher's personal Facebook page.

The Winnipeg School Division has suspended veteran Kelvin High School technology teacher Brad Badiuk with pay for a lengthy diatribe against aboriginals posted on his Facebook site.

He's facing discipline and could even be fired.

"It goes from sensitivity training all the way to loss of employment," school board chairman Mark Wasyliw said Thursday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/12/2014 (1744 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Teachers are teachers 24 hours a day — they're held to higher standards, says a professional creed that's about to be put to the test after scathing attacks on aboriginal people on a teacher's personal Facebook page.

The Winnipeg School Division has suspended veteran Kelvin High School technology teacher Brad Badiuk with pay for a lengthy diatribe against aboriginals posted on his Facebook site.

Kelvin High School teacher Brad Badiuk is on a paid leave because of a Facebook post.

FACEBOOK

Kelvin High School teacher Brad Badiuk is on a paid leave because of a Facebook post.

He's facing discipline and could even be fired.

"It goes from sensitivity training all the way to loss of employment," school board chairman Mark Wasyliw said Thursday.

The Manitoba Teachers' Society won't discuss Badiuk's case, but said what teachers do on their own time is not a protection against an employer imposing discipline.

"Teaching is not what I do, it's what I am," said MTS president Paul Olson.

Anything that brings into question a teacher's judgment or suitability to teach, or brings the employer into disrepute "is fair game. It's not a protection for a professional — professionals are held to a higher standard."

Wasyliw said the division has not publicly identified the suspended teacher by name or school, though screen captures of his Facebook account are on social media.

"The WSD administration was made aware of the Facebook posting on Monday and immediately launched an investigation," Wasyliw said. "The process when this occurs is to investigate/authenticate whether the employee did in fact post the offending messages and is therefore responsible for the content. The administration then examines the content to see if it is more than simply offensive and has crossed the line to being racist in nature," Wasyliw said.

Wasyliw was unaware Thursday whether division staff had concluded Badiuk wrote everything posted under his name and photo, although WSD staff has had four days to determine if there were any possibility his account was hacked.

"Once the investigation has been completed, the administration receives a recommendation from the human-resources department as to any disciplinary action that it recommends," Wasyliw said.

Screen captures of Badiuk's Facebook page show the postings went on for several pages, including: "How long are aboriginal people going to use what happened as a crutch to suck more money out of Canadians?... as a people they (aboriginals) have contributed nothing or very little to the development of Canada. Just standing their (sic) with their hand out."

Because the teacher can appeal any disciplinary action to trustees, the board is limited as to how much it can comment pending the outcome of the investigation, Wasyliw said.

"I can say that we take these allegations very seriously and reacted immediately upon hearing them. We pride ourselves in fostering tolerance and diversity in our school division and these type of allegations have a substantial and negative effect on creating a safe inclusive learning environment.

"If substantiated, I would expect that serious actions would be taken by the administration. Teachers have an important role in helping to shape the mind and values of their students. As role models, they must be held to a high standard in their conduct even outside of work hours," said Wasyliw.

Badiuk could not be reached Thursday. He took down both his Facebook and Twitter accounts. However, YouTube still has clips of performances of a Winnipeg band in which Badiuk sings and plays guitar.

The website ratemyteacher.com indicates Badiuk has taught at Kelvin since at least 2003 and is highly respected by students.

Kevin Hart, a senior aide to Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said several members of the community took screen captures of Badiuk's Facebook site and got in touch with him on the weekend.

"It was like, 'oh my God,' " said Hart, who alerted the grand chief. "Monday morning, I immediately called the principal at Kelvin High School," said Hart.

Hart said it's bad enough Badiuk is a teacher, but he also teaches in the Winnipeg School Division, "one of the most diverse school divisions in the country."

Nepinak said he has yet to talk to the division or school board.

"I'm more concerned about the consequences for young aboriginal children in the classroom. It shows in the teaching style or the attitudes towards aboriginal people... children taught to be ashamed of who they are," Nepinak said.

"Generally, I don't focus in too much on the racism and ignorance that surface every day in Winnipeg," preferring to accentuate the positive, the grand chief said. But Nepinak added he is conferring with his family over a possible response to references on Badiuk's Facebook site to Nepinak and his family.

There is no known precedent of a similar situation at WSD. Olson was not aware of any case in which a Manitoba teacher was fired for such an action.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Should the teacher’s employer hold him responsible for comments made outside of work hours? Join the conversation in the comments below.

 

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History

Updated on Friday, December 12, 2014 at 10:05 AM CST: Adds tag, conversation question.

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