Ontario teacher’s legal triumph over rogue school board’s democratic oppression

A cancelled Ontario elementary school teacher has announced a major victory in her legal battle with the Waterloo Region District School Board, which attempted to weaponize legislation to silence her.

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An Ontario judge ruled on November 23 that a defamation lawsuit by cancelled teacher Carolyn Burjoski could proceed against her former school board, the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), after the board attempted to weaponize anti-SLAPP legislation to silence her.

Burjoski first came under fire after she was expelled from a board meeting on January 17, 2022, for the crime of presenting excerpts from books found in her school library.

WRDSB Chair Scott Piatkowski interrupted Burjoski’s presentation, accusing her of discriminatory hate speech as she questioned the appropriateness of highly sexual content available to elementary students.

Burjoski highlights the book “Rick” in her presentation, which details the journey of a middle school-aged boy who begins to question his sexuality when he doesn’t feel attracted to girls or boys.

“While reading this book I was thinking, maybe Rick doesn’t have sexual feelings yet because he is a child,” she explains.

Thereafter Burjoski was ordered to stay home and barred from interacting with students and colleagues. WRDSB then filed a formal complaint against her and hired an outside firm to launch a disciplinary investigation against her.

Burjoski believes that this incident exposed a serious problem in how school boards are using language and human rights legislation as weapons to intimidate and silence anyone who questions their policies, intimidate dissenters and inhibit free speech.

As a result, Burjoski requested a public apology from the board after they misrepresented her presentation as hateful.

The board refused, so Burjoski filed a $1.75 million defamation claim with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against WRDSB and Chair Piatkowski in April 2022.

In September 2023, the board filed an anti-SLAPP motion to quell the lawsuit. SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation and anti-SLAPP legislation is meant to protect individuals from wealthy, endlessly resourced, strategic lawsuits intended to silence them from moving forward judicially.

It’s legislation meant to safeguard the underdog from conglomerates, and yet it was being perverted and weaponized by the WRDSB and Scott Piatkowski.

But Ontario Superior Court Judge Ramsay dismissed this twisted legal maneuver and condemned the board's conduct.

“The Human Rights Code does not prohibit public discussion… of anything,” Burjoksi shares of Justice Ramsay’s decision.

“I find it regrettable that the defendant who is trying to shut down debate is an arm of the government. Regard for the historical and present plight of the transgendered, as articulated in paragraph 85 of Hansman, does not negate section 2(b) of the Charter. What happened here should not happen in a democratic society,” said Justice Ramsay in his decision.

The WRDSB’s absurd democratic suppression underscores an authoritarian culture permeating Ontario schools, showcasing a severe disdain for dissent. The ruling exposes the board's manipulation of the law and human rights code and should prompt a comprehensive review of curriculum and library-housed materials.

Parents and students deserve responsible leadership in education that rejects overreach and unfettered ideological adherence.

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