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Harper Grey 1,LP

BARRISTERS & SOLICITORS


3200650 West Georgia Street

Vancouver BC Canada V6B 4P7


Tel. 604 687 0411 Fax 604 669 9385
BRYAN G. BAYNHAM, Q.C.
DIRECT LINE: 604 895 2802
bbaynharn@harpergrey.com
www.harpergrey.com

File Number: Pending

October 25,2016
VIA EMAIL AND COURIER
British Columbia School
Superintendents Association
208 1118 Homer Street
Vancouver BC V6B 6L5
Attention: Sherry Elwood
Dear Ms. Elwood:
Re:

Demand for Retraction and Apology

I act for Michael (Michele) Lombardi the deposed chair of the Vancouver School Board as
well as three elected members, Patti (Patricia) Bacchus, Joy Alexander and Allan Wong.
According to a news story broadcast on Global TV on October 3, you were the source of the
allegations of bullying, harassment and intimidation by members of the Vancouver School
Board against its senior staff. These allegations seriously defame the good name and
reputation of my clients and require a retraction and full apology for those comments.
My clients deny that they have said or done anything that could justify these allegations.
They are particularly concerned that these allegations appear to be based on hearsay
statements offormer colleagues of yours, who were apparently alleged victims of abuse.
The appropriate course to follow would have been a complaint addressed to the Vancouver
School Board pursuant to its harassment policy. That policy applies to anyone who is
employed by the Vancouver School Board and allows anyone who feels that they have been
bullied, harassed or intimidated to have a confidential investigation into the allegations
conducted in the knowledge that the information provided will remain confidential, as would
the identity of the complainant.
To my clients' knowledge no staff member has filed a complaint or has anyone raised a
formal allegation against them. In fact, when the allegations you instigated with the media
came to Mr. Lombardi's attention he instructed the acting Superintendent to initiate an
investigation, all of which would have been done in confidence to avoid any reference to the
individuals involved and to avoid any publicity.

MEMBER OF THE TAGLAW INTERNATIONAL LEGAL NETWORK

Page 2

That investigation has been side tracked by the Ministry of Education taking the extraordinary
step of referring the allegations to WorkSafe BC. It has also resulted in the Minister of
Education releasing details of the investigation to the news media, which caused unfounded
allegations of bullying, harassment and intimidation to be made against my clients for a
second time.
Leaving aside the serious breach of privacy of the senior staff involved, the directive to
WorkSafe BC to embark upon an investigation based on hearsay has caused serious damage
to my clients' good names and reputations.
All of this could have been avoided had you advised the individual who contacted you to file
a complaint pursuant to the Vancouver School Board harassment policy or, alternatively, to
personally file a complaint with WorkSafe BC directly.
As WorkSafe BC has stated subsequently, that their investigation is conducted in private and
they will not "divulge if individual claims have been filed due to privacy reasons".
The damage caused to my clients as dramatically increased on October 17th when the Minister
of Education, at a press conference, in reliance on your letter of September 28th, accused Mr.
Lombardi and his colleagues of creating a toxic work place for staff. He then went on to
justify his dismissal of the Board on the hearsay allegations in your letter of September 28,
2016.
My clients treat this very seriously and have instructed me to demand a full retraction and
apology for the defamatory statements made of them.
Please provide me with a draft of your proposed apology and retraction within seven days of
the date ofthis letter.
My clients reserve the right to pursue all legal options open to them. I urge you to retain
advice from a lawyer experienced in the law of defamation.
Yours truly,
HARPER GREY LLP

Per:

Bryan G. Baynham, Q.C.

BGB/kda
Encl.