Province gives Winnipeg School Division 6 more months to meet scathing report recommendations

​The Winnipeg School Division has been given six more months to implement changes recommended in a scathing government report that accused the divisions trustees of being “out of control” and “playing political games.”

Winnipeg School Division given extension on implementing changes in report from John Wiens

Mark Wasyliw, chair of the board of the Winnipeg School Division, has said he is committed to reviewing the governance recommendations set out in the report. (CBC)

The Winnipeg School Division has been given six more months to implement changes recommended in a scathing government report that accused the divisions trustees of being "out of control" and "playing political games."

John Wiens, dean emeritus of the University of Manitoba's faculty of education, was commissioned by the provincial government to write the report, and it was released in June.

The report made 22 recommended changes on a host of measures and called the division's board of trustees, "'out of control' and the superintendent/CEO either powerless or disinclined to insist that the board not micromanage and interfere."

Among his concerns were the actions of Winnipeg School Division's Mike Babinsky, who has been censured four times for his behaviour over his two-decade-long career as a trustee.

Babinsky has been accused of being a bully, and has received formal censures for "making disparaging remarks about another colleague; using offensive language; and being disrespectful to fellow trustees and administration."

Another issue the report pointed out, a controversy over a proposed school swap between École La Vérendrye and Earl Grey School.

The province gave the division until the end of this year to make "significant progress" to the issues outlined in the report.

In his report, Wiens called on Manitoba's Minister of Education James Allum to fire the entire board of trustees if they couldn't "get their act together" by then.

On Wednesday, provincial officials said many of the recommendations have been acted on and implemented and "other key recommendations that are still pending."

School board Chair Mark Wasyliw said he heard about the extension though the media,

"I'm obviously concerned the province is releasing this information to the media without contacting myself or the board," Wasyliw said in a statement. "It is a sign of general disrespect when we have to learn about decisions made by the province through the media.

"My board will have further comments to make about this process and the ministers decision once we learn of the details."

Provincial officials met with the division last week to go over their progress, and Allum has asked for another report from the division by June 2016.

"As has been practice in previous divisional reviews, the minister will also require Winnipeg School Division to cooperate in a third-party compliance audit to ensure that that objectives of the recommendations have been met.  This compliance review will start on receipt of the June 2016 implementation report," officials with the province said. 

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