Expelled WRDSB trustee for challenging censorship of a teacher in court today

HAMILTON: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms announces that, today, June 6, 2023, the Ontario Divisional Court will hear Trustee Mike Ramsay’s legal challenge to the Waterloo Region District School Board’s 2022 decision finding him in breach of the Trustee Code of Conduct for expressing disagreement with the January 17, 2022 decision of the Board Chair to stop the presentation at a public meeting of then-teacher Carolyn Burjoski about alleged inappropriate materials in schools. Trustee Ramsay is further challenging the Board’s decision to censure him, bar him from attending Board meetings for three months, and prohibit him from receiving in-camera Board materials.

The virtual hearing will be held on June 6th, 2023, at 10:00 AM (EST).

Mike Ramsay served as a police officer with the Waterloo Regional Police for 11 years and is currently a practicing paralegal. Trustee Ramsay has served nearly 35 years and six terms as a trustee on the Waterloo Region District School Board. He was re-elected trustee in October 2022.

At a January 17, 2022 public meeting, the Board Chair shut down the presentation of teacher Carolyn Burjoski in which she was expressing her concerns that some school materials sexualized children and downplayed the risks of medical gender transitions. He engaged in further communication about the Chair’s controversial decision both at a subsequent meeting and by sharing some media articles on Twitter.

Trustee Ramsay was then the subject of a complaint from a fellow Trustee, which started a formal investigation, before concluding in the Board’s decision against him.

Trustee Ramsay is challenging the Board’s decision on the basis that it was marred by the Chair’s bias, was unreasonable, and was an unconstitutional violation of his freedom of expression protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Trustee Ramsay is further challenging the Board’s attempt to keep secret information about decision against him.

“Trustee Ramsay’s case is important because it engages, not only his own personal right to free expression, but also the values of democracy embodied in his role as an elected representative” says lawyer for Trustee Ramsay, Hatim Kheir. He continues: “When Trustee Ramsay was silenced, his constituents were also silenced. We are hopeful that this case will provide guidance to school boards going forward that trustees should unreasonably be excluded from exercising their duties.”

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