Ex-teacher's $1.75M defamation suit against school board meant to silence them, WRDSB and chair say

The Waterloo Region District School Board and board of trustees chairperson Scott Piatkowski are being sued by a former teacher after her delegation during a meeting in January was cut short. In a statement of defence, they say any damage done to the teacher's reputation is her own doing.

Any harm to teacher's reputation is a 'result of the plaintiff's own conduct,' statement of defence says

Waterloo Region District School Board sign outside their main office.
In a statement of defence, the Waterloo Region District School Board and board of trustees chairperson Scott Piatkowski deny any wrongdoing in ending Carolyn Burjoski's delegation during a meeting in January or comments made following that. (Waterloo Region District School Board/Twitter)

The Waterloo Region District School Board says a $1.75 million lawsuit brought against it by a former teacher is meant as a means of "silencing" the board and "chilling the expression of others," namely those who support the LGBTQ community.

Last month, the school board filed a statement of defence in the lawsuit by Carolyn Burjoski, a former teacher who says her reputation and mental health have been damaged after a delegation she was giving to school board trustees was cut short. 

Board chairperson Scott Piatkowski stopped Burjoski's delegation during the Jan. 17 meeting because he had concerns what she was saying violated the province's human rights code. 

Burjoski, who has since retired from her position with the board as an English as a second language teacher, launched her lawsuit in April. It names the Waterloo Region District School Board and Piatkowski as defendants.

In her statement of claim, Burjoski calls into question the school board and Piatkowski's conduct and what she calls their "false and malicious statements." Burjoski says in the statement that immediately after the meeting, she started experiencing insomnia, anxiety and "overwhelming stress," which resulted in a nervous breakdown five days later. 

A woman wearing a blue shirt faces the camera.
Retired teacher Carolyn Burjoski, seen in this screengrab from a YouTube video, says she wants to finish a delegation that was ended early by trustees of the Waterloo Region District School Board. She's asked the courts to allow her to do so. Burjoski also launched a $1.75 million defamation suit against the board and the chairperson of the board of trustees. (Carolyn Burjoski/YouTube)

She alleges the board and Piatkowski "acted intentionally and recklessly" when they made comments about her delegation.

None of Burjoski's claims have been proven in court, nor have the statements of defence issued by the school board.

Delegation about library review process

The statement of claim says that Burjoski spoke at the January board meeting about the board's library review process. She "expressed concern about the appropriateness of certain books that were included in the elementary school libraries." 

Burjoski's statement of claim says she was worried the books "could put pressure on kids to start thinking sexually before they are ready to do so."

The statement of defence says that during the presentation, Piatkowski first warned Burjoski her presentation "could be problematic" because the language she used in her delegation violated the board's code of conduct, which states the board cannot allow delegations to contravene the Ontario Human Rights Code.

He later ended her delegation, again citing the human rights code. Other trustees upheld that decision in a vote.

After the meeting, Burjoski claims Piatkowski gave "false and defamatory statements" in local media and on his Twitter feed. She also alleges the school board made defamatory statements in a message sent to staff and another posted to the board's website after the meeting.

The statement of defence says Piatkowski's comments in the meeting, to media and on Twitter were "entirely appropriate." The statement says comments made by the board and Piatkowski were not made in malice and they were not intended to inflict emotional harm on Burjoski.

The statement of defence goes on to say it's believed Burjoski's lawsuit was filed "for the purposes of silencing the defendants and chilling the expression of others in relation to matters of public interest — namely, the support of the LGBTQ2S+ community."

It added, "any harm done to the plaintiff's reputation … is the result of the plaintiff's own conduct."

The case is set to return to a Kitchener courtroom at a later date.


Kate Bueckert


Kate has been covering issues in southern Ontario for more than 15 years. She currently works for CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. Email:

With files from Carmen Groleau