Four Vision Vancouver school board trustees fired by the province are now threatening legal action against the Minister of Education and the President of the of the BC School Superintendents Association.
Lawyer Bryan Baynam says his clients are demanding a retraction and apology from Minister Mike Bernier and Sherry Elwood for alleging the elected trustees were responsible for creating a toxic work environment prompting six senior staffers to go on medical leave.
Baynam says the claims were based on “hearsay” evidence.
“Ms. Elwood appears to have initiated the contact with the Ministry by requesting that the ministry intervene. What she should have done is advised her members to file a harassment complaint either with the Vancouver School Board or WorksafeBC itself.”
Baynam alleges Bernier defamed the Vision trustees through letters and media releases claiming the elected trustees “created a toxic work environment by bullying, harassing, and intimidating” senior staff.
Bernier announced a WorkSafeBC probe into the allegations last month, after receiving a letter from the BCSTA with the complaint.
An excerpt of that letter obtained by Global News’ Keith Baldrey reads as follows:
“The Vancouver School Board work environment continually and cumulatively creates a toxicity which fosters fear and a lack of sense of safety for those lead educators as the expectations requested of them are unmanageable.”
Baynam says the fired Vision trustees may go to court to get it.
“It is open to my clients to bring an action for defamation and get a court order that in effect an apology be given.”
Baynam says Bernier should take back his claim his clients actions were the “cause of the senior staff feeling it necessary to take medical leave.”
The Vision Vancouver party is paying for the litigation.
In a statement to CKNW Minister Mike Bernier say he has received their lawyer’s letter and that it is being reviewed.
He says they will respond appropriately.