Retired teacher sues Waterloo Region District School Board chair for alleged defamation

KITCHENER — A now-retired teacher is suing the Waterloo Region District School Board and the board chair for alleged defamation.

“On January 17, 2022, I was expelled from a board meeting for criticizing the age appropriateness of sexual content in children’s books in elementary school libraries,” Carolyn Burjoski said in a video posted to Twitter on Wednesday.

“Over the next few days, I became the center of a nationwide media frenzy fueled by statements by the Chairman of the Board on radio, television and social media. He attributed to me comments that I didn’t keep up, called them hateful and accused me of violating the Human Rights Code.

Burjoski was a council teacher at the time, but has since retired.

“The board quickly removed the video of the meeting from their website so people couldn’t hear for themselves what I actually said,” she says in the video.

“The day after the meeting, I was ordered to stay home and not talk to my students and colleagues. The board then filed a formal complaint against me and hired an outside firm to conduct a disciplinary investigation.

“The enormous stress on me and my family from these events has been overwhelming.”

Burjoski went into depression on Jan. 22 “due to extreme anxiety and was taken to hospital by ambulance,” she said. “I am still recovering from this trauma. Just five days before I retired, the investigator called me in for questioning and asked me to sign a gag order.

She said the investigation could not proceed further as her doctor had placed her on sick leave.

“I think this incident revealed a serious problem,” Burjoski said in the video.

“School boards use language and human rights laws as weapons to silence anyone who questions their policies. In my opinion, the message to all teachers is clear: if you talk, you will be punished. »

She said she filed a defamation suit in Superior Court against the board and chairman Scott Piatkowski “to hold them accountable for their words and actions.”

In the Twitter video, Burjoski doesn’t say how much money she’s looking for.

None of his claims have been proven.

“At this time, we have no comment,” the school board said in an email to The Record.

The council previously said it was on the side of the law when it blocked a delegation from talking about books about transgender youth at the January 17 meeting.

Piatkowski previously said the administrators got a taste of the abuse and hatred that trans people have been subjected to since that meeting.

But that “palms in comparison to the harm that would have happened to the students” had the delegation continued, he said.

With files from Paige Desmond, Record staff

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