My Defamation Lawsuit Against the WRDSB
My name is Carolyn Burjoski and I was a teacher with the Waterloo Region District School Board for over 20 years. On January 17, 2022, I was ejected from a Board of Trustees meeting for criticizing the age appropriateness of sexual content in children’s books in elementary school libraries.
Over the next few days, I became the center of a national media frenzy fuelled by statements made by the Board Chair on radio, TV and social media. He attributed to me remarks that I did not make, characterized them as hateful, and accused me of violating the Human Rights Code. The Board quickly removed the video of the meeting from its website so people could not hear for themselves what I actually said.
The day after the meeting, I was ordered to stay home from school and barred from speaking to my colleagues and students. 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. On January 22, I suffered a breakdown from extreme anxiety and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. I am still in recovery from this trauma. Just 5 days before my retirement, the investigator summoned me for questioning and required me to sign a gag order. The investigation could not proceed any further because my doctor placed me on medical leave. I am now gratefully retired.
I believe this incident has exposed a serious problem – that school boards are using language and human rights legislation as weapons to silence anyone who questions their policies. In my view, the message to all teachers is clear: if you speak up, you will be punished.
I am deeply concerned by the punitive way the Board and its Chair acted in this matter. Therefore, I have filed a defamation claim with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (file number CV22000004150000) against WRDSB and its Board Chair, Scott Piatkowski, to hold them accountable for their words and actions.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me this far. You have empowered me to take these initial steps. Civil litigation is an expensive and daunting process, especially for one individual up against a large institution. If you want to support my lawsuit, my GoFundMe link can be found below.
Statement of Claim:
Statement of Defence: