June 15, 2019

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Today's news from the Babinsky bureau

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 5/12/2014 (1653 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If anyone is hanging around the International Court in The Hague, and spots WSD school trustee Mike Babinsky walking up the front steps with an armload of documents, let me know, eh?

Babinksy has struck out everywhere else he’s tried so far in his bid to get someone, anyone, in authority to launch a criminal investigation into Winnipeg School Division, even though he flat-out absolutely refuses to allege that anything criminal has occurred.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/12/2014 (1653 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

 

If anyone is hanging around the International Court in The Hague, and spots WSD school trustee Mike Babinsky walking up the front steps with an armload of documents, let me know, eh?

Babinksy has struck out everywhere else he’s tried so far in his bid to get someone, anyone, in authority to launch a criminal investigation into Winnipeg School Division, even though he flat-out absolutely refuses to allege that anything criminal has occurred.

Education Minister Peter Bjornson 2.0, Justice Minister James Allum, and now the Winnipeg Police Service have all declined to do so.

Babinsky says that the Public Schools Act has been violated repeatedly, which he kind of thinks that maybe sort-of that someone may think was somehow done in a criminal way, though, of course, he’s not saying that — he wants some public body, any public body, to investigate whether it should conduct a criminal investigation.

His allegations involve kids waiting a long time to be picked up by school buses last winter, and the long tradition in the division of doing enormous amounts of business behind closed doors.

This all goes back to last year, when Babinsky raised legitimate concerns about how long some kids were spending riding buses in WSD, and how long some kids had had to wait at bus stops on very cold days. He also raised legitimate concerns about the school board’s going behind closed doors to award a raise to bus drivers after they made the transition from being employees of private First Student Canada to being WSD employees.

Come June 2, and Babinsky raised a notice of motion to discuss at the June 16 meeting his demand for discipline — pretty serious stuff — against anyone in WSD found to be responsible for the kids waiting out in the cold. Come June 16, his motion was defeated behind closed doors.

Now, I should explain that I didn’t see any of the school board action first-hand. I wasn’t going to board meetings all that often, having explained here a few times that there wasn’t much point to sitting through 20 minutes of public nothing, and then camping outside a closed door for three or four hours. As well, these events happened when I was off on vacation, attending both kids' convocations a week apart in other provinces.

So, does anyone get a whiff of anything criminal’s having happened?

Board chair Mark Wasyliw — along with Cathy Collins and Babinsky, one of three veterans on the board now — says that Babinsky’s notice of motion got ‘generalized,’ not altered and hidden and concealed as Babinsky alleges, because it identified an individual employee and left the division vulnerable to a lawsuit.

This week I got a call from Suzanne Hrynyk, who retired in October to take a run at city council, and who was board chair last June when all of this went down.

Hrynyk disagreed with Wasyliw’s version of events. Nothing was altered or generalized, Hrynyk said.

Notices of motion must be in writing, and there’s no debating them the night they’re tabled, they get placed on the agenda of the next regular board meeting, usually a fortnight hence.

Hrynyk said that Babinsky brought up his notice of motion verbally, with nothing in writing to share with the board. When she heard it — emphasizing that verbal statements do not go into the minutes — she realized the sensitivity of conducting debate in public about punishing employees, and ruled that Babinsky’s matter would go to the closed-door session, at which he could present a written motion.

That’s what happened, and when it was heard behind closed doors June 16 and defeated, that was the end of it, said Hrynyk, and there was nothing in the public minutes to be altered or generalized.

Anyone else want to present a version of events? Five other retired board members? Cathy Collins?

Though I never digress, I’ll make an exception here and muse aloud about how all this would have been different, had the board already been livestreaming its meetings and archiving the tapes online, as it’s looking at doing soon.

One other thing Hrynyk said to me... while the type of confrontation I witnessed Monday night between Wasyliw and Babinsky was quite beyond what has happened in public in recent memory, Hrynyk said it was typical of the closed-door interchanges involving Babinsky; what jumped out at me was Hrynyk’s saying that Babinsky may find himself at the board making motions about all sorts of things, and maybe not getting a seconder, and thus not being able to even discuss them on the floor of the school board.

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