Pubdate: Tue, 04 Dec 2001
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2001 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Nick Martin


Top Board Members Knew About Kelvin Investigation

FRIDAY'S undercover drug busts at Kelvin High School were first proposed 
last year but were delayed until police had an officer available, Winnipeg 
School Division south end superintendent Bob Wilkes said last night.

"It's not a brand-new issue," said Wilkes, who was principal at Kelvin 
until last June 30.

Wilkes was reluctant to give details of the undercover operation that has 
led to drug charges against nine students aged 14 to 17 -- five were 
removed from their classrooms in handcuffs on Friday -- but said police 
manpower was an issue in not moving sooner against suspected drug dealers 
in the school.

Wilkes said an undercover officer enrolled in Kelvin this fall and attended 
classes. "Students can move into the area at different times," said Wilkes, 
who reluctantly acknowledged that classroom teachers were unaware that 
there was a police officer among their students. "We were concerned 
particularly with the selling."

Trustees went behind closed doors last night to receive a report on the 
drug busts from senior administrators, and to ask how TV cameras were 
present to film students being led out in handcuffs.

Board chairwoman Liz Ambrose said in an interview that she and 
vice-chairman Mario Santos were told about the undercover operation 
sometime in October and gave their approval, but did not share it with the 
rest of the school board because the fewer that knew, the less chance of 
the officer's cover being broken.

It is only the second time in the last 20 years that undercover officers 
have been placed in WSD schools, she said. The previous occasion led to 
several convictions on drug dealing charges at Grant Park High School about 
six years ago.

Wilkes said the students have been suspended until Jan. 25. "At that time, 
there will be a recommendation to the board" about what happens to them 
next, Wilkes said.

Wilkes would not speculate if the busts swept up every student suspected of 
drug dealing, nor if the alleged young offenders were working as a group 
for suppliers outside the school. "There would be very few people who are 
individual entrepreneurs," he said.

Teachers were briefed after school Friday, and students encouraged 
yesterday in their first two periods to talk in each classroom about what 
had happened, he said. "The feedback, in general, seemed to be positive 
from the students. It does make a statement, certainly."
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