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Retired teacher who faced transphobia accusations files defamation suit against WRDSB, chair

Carolyn Burjoski was removed from a public school board meeting in January during her presentation on school library books
Waterloo Region District School Board
CityNews file photo

A retired local elementary school teacher, who became the centre of controversy months ago is now, going after the Waterloo Region District School Board and its chairperson.

It's after comments she made during a local public school board meeting were labelled "transphobic."

In a video shared on social media, Carolyn Burjoski said she filed a defamation claim.

She alleged she was caught in the middle of a "national media frenzy" after comments WRDSB chair Scott Piatkowski made to media.

Back in January, Burjoski was removed from a Board of Trustees meeting during her presentation on school library books.

Piatkowski, along with other trustees and advocates accused her comments of being transphobic.

Those who supported Burjoski maintained she was only speaking on age appropriateness and should've been allowed to continue.

In the video, the retired teacher said Piatkowski attributed remarks to her that she "did not make and characterized them as hateful."

Burjoski said, "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 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. 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 five 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 the doctor had placed me on medical leave. I am now gratefully retired."

She alleged what happened exposed a "serious problem."

“The school boards are using language and human rights legislations 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 that the board and its chair acted in this matter."

Burjoski said she wants to hold them accountable "for their words and their actions."

She did not mention what amount of money she's looking for and is seeking support through a crowdfunding campaign. 

Piatkowski previously told CityNews 570 he was defending the Human Rights Code and maintained he'd made the right decision.

He said in January, "I'm hearing from school board chairs and other boards that they would not have allowed that either. I'm hearing from past chairs of this board."

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