Former Waterloo region teacher launches $1.75M lawsuit against WRDSB

A Waterloo region teacher who was removed from a public school board meeting in January after her comments were deemed transphobic by the chair is now suing the board.

Carolyn Burjoski, who has since retired, has launched a lawsuit against the Waterloo Region District School Board and the Chairperson Scott Piatowski for defamation, libel and slander as well as damages for emotional suffering.

In January, Burjoski delegated at a virtual school board meeting. Her presentation raised concerns that some school library books about sexuality were not appropriate for children. She cited a book that discusses asexuality and another about a transgender teenager as specific examples.

Halfway through her presentation, chairperson Piatowski stopped her, citing concerns her comments violated the Ontario Human Rights Code.

She was then removed from the virtual meeting and a video recording of the meeting was taken off social media.

Court documents show Burjoski is suing for $1.75 million.

The documents state that statements the board and Piatowski used to describe Burjoski were false and damaging to her reputation.

Burjoski claims the comments caused considerable embarrassment, distress, anxiety and harm and wrongfully labelled her as transphobic and as a bigot.

Burjoski declined an interview with CTV Kitchener, but she has posted a video on social media.

“The enormous stress on me and my family from these events has been overwhelming,” she said in a video posted to Twitter on May 4. “On Jan 22. I suffered a break down from extreme anxiety and was taken to hospital by ambulance. I am still in recovery from this trauma.”

In a statement to CTV News, Burjowski’s lawyer Justin Heimpel said they gave the board and its chair an opportunity to issue a retraction and public apology. They did not.

"Burjowski's hope is that, by pursuing this claim, she will help to ensure that future school boards are not able to silence and malign delegations that present concerns they do not want to hear, or that are inconsistent with their ideology," Heimpel said in part.

CTV News reached out to the Waterloo Region District School Board and Piatowski, both declined to comment.