Teacher ejected from school board meeting asks Ontario court to let her finish delegation

Contacted about now-retired Carolyn Burjoski, Waterloo region board says it’s unable to discuss legal matters

CBC News · Posted: Jun 20, 2022

A now-retired teacher is asking the Ontario court system to let her finish a delegation that saw her ejected from a Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) meeting earlier this year.

Carolyn Burjoski said she wants a judicial review of the events of Jan. 17, arguing the school board violated her right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

On that night, the former elementary school teacher had begun a presentation on how the school board manages its library collection — in schools and classrooms.

Burjoski had her presentation cut short after speaking about two books: one with an asexual protagonist and another with a transgender protagonist. The board voiced concerns her remarks violated the Ontario Human Rights Code, which provides protections based on gender identity or gender expression. She was then removed from the virtual meeting. 

A judicial review could decide if those decisions were fair, reasonable and lawful. 

On Monday, CBC News checked with the divisional Superior Court of Justice in Hamilton, where Burjoski’s lawyers said the request was filed. CBC was told a file matching that number exists, but had not yet been digitized and couldn’t be viewed. 

A matter of free expression: Burjoski

In a video statement posted to YouTube on Monday, Burjoski said she had been allowed 10 minutes for her delegation at the board meeting, but was interrupted after four minutes and ejected.

“I am concerned that school boards are abusing their power to silence and shame people who ask perfectly reasonable questions,” said Burjoski in the video. 

“Boards must respect the rights of parents and teachers to free expression.”

Burjoski said she hopes the courts will order the board to allow her to delegate before the board and complete her presentation.

She said lawyers with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are working on her case pro bono. 

In a news release on the justice centre’s website, lawyer Jorge Pineda says, “The board’s decision to silence Ms. Burjoski, based on the false claim that her views violate the Human Rights Code, demonstrates a serious lack of understanding and respect for basic democratic principles and cannot go unchallenged.”

The WRDSB told CBC it is not able to discuss ongoing legal matters.

Burjoski is also suing the WRDSB for $1.75 million in a separate defamation lawsuit.

None of the claims made in either of the civil filings have been proven in court.

SOURCE : CBC NEWS https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/wrdsb-carolyn-burjoski-freedom-expression-1.6494751

RELATED : https://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/silenced-and-punished-wrdsb-teacher-speaks-out-about-controversial-school-board-meeting-1.5750409

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