Skip to main content

Trustee brings school board to court over temporary suspension for alleged breach of conduct

A trustee with the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) brought the board to court on Tuesday, arguing that a suspension handed to him in 2022 was unfair and unreasonable.

Mike Ramsay was suspended from the board from June to September 2022. According to court documents, he was suspended for breaching the board trustee code of conduct. The 6-3 decision to suspend him was made by board trustees following an integrity commissioner report.

The complaint prompting the integrity commissioner investigation was that Ramsay violated the code of conduct through various comments, social media posts and public positions after the board's decision to stop teacher Carolyn Burjoski’s presentation about the age-appropriateness of library materials on Jan. 17, 2022. The complaint also claims he violated the code through comments made about the school board's actions on other issues.

Burjoski brought the school board to court on Monday, requesting a judicial review separate from Ramsay’s. The same panel of judges heard those arguments and reserved their decision on whether her presentation should have been stopped by the board.


On Tuesday, lawyers representing Ramsay and the WRDSB presented arguments to a panel of three judges.

Ramsay is seeking a judicial review on the decision that suspended him for three months in 2022, blocking him from meetings and from accessing in-camera documents. He’s hoping the court will quash the decision, and will demand the school board make a declaration that his right to free expression was limited.

Hatim Kheir, the lawyer representing Ramsay, said there were a number of reasons why Ramsay’s suspension was unfair.

Kheir argued board chair Scott Piatkowski was biased in his vote to suspend Ramsay, arguing Piatkowski’s bias tainted the decision by the board as a whole. Kheir said previous comments made by Piatkowski indicated he had already made up his mind that Ramsay had in fact breached the code of conduct, before the integrity report came out.

Additionally, Kheir said it was unfair that some of the board deliberations about Ramsay’s suspension were held in-camera, preventing a level of public accountability.

Kheir also argued Ramsay was never given a detailed description of what specific tweets, emails or comments violated the code of conduct. He added Ramsay’s freedom of expression was infringed on because he felt he could not express himself without consequences.

“From trustee Ramsay’s perspective, having read the integrity commissioner report, they still don’t answer in what way that he violated the code of conduct,” Kheir said.

“There was no discussion about his submissions which he made to the board. There was no discussion about what specific statements or tweets breached the code – was it all of them? Was it some of them? Was it each individually or was it some sort of collective that they amounted to a breach?”

Kheir said portions of meeting minutes and the integrity commissioner report had been redacted, meaning the public doesn’t have complete access to them. He argued this is unfair, and there shouldn’t be anything in those documents that wasn’t said during public meetings.

In an interview following the court proceedings, Ramsay said despite this situation, he still wants the focus to be on the students.

“I’m absolutely motivated to continue to try and focus the board on student learning and achievement,” Ramsay said.

“Also to represent the viewpoint of the people that elected me. There’s a good cross section of citizens from all walks of life and I feel that the obligation is to them.”


Natalie Kolos, one of the lawyers representing the WRDSB, said the board is asking for Ramsay’s application for judicial review be dismissed. The board stands by its decision to suspend him.

Kolos argued that in light of Ramsay’s obligation as a trustee, his freedom of expression is not free of consequence.

Quoting the integrity commissioner’s report, she said: “[the] charter does not allow an individual to say whatever they want, whenever they want, without regard for the rules of the forum of which they are speaking.”

She argued there was no evidence that Piatkowski had pre-existing bias against Ramsay and that all decisions made by the board came from the facts put forward by the integrity commissioner’s report.

She said the integrity commissioner found the primary basis for the complaints against Ramsay stemmed from the delegation event involving Burjoski on Jan. 17, 2022, his reaction to that decision and his alleged failure to respect it.

Kolos mentioned some online activity that the board considered to be against the code of conduct, including a retweet that “made a personal attack on the chair.”

The school board argues that it acted within procedural fairness in suspending Ramsay.

“Not all decisions or processes have the same requirements for procedural fairness,” Kolos said.

“This was an administrative decision made by an elected board of trustees, empowered by [a] statute to govern their own affairs.”

Lawyers representing the WRDSB declined an interview request from CTV News, saying they could not comment on the matter as it is still before the courts.

Similar to Monday, the panel of judges reserved their decision, which is expected to be sent to both parties at a later date.


Tuesday’s virtual hearing was originally scheduled to start at 10 a.m. on Zoom.

However, it ended up being delayed by about an hour and a half due to members of the public joining the meeting and sharing their screens, showing pornographic content and audio containing racial slurs.

“I think it was a vile, personal attack, not just on myself but also on the administration of justice,” Ramsay said in an interview following the hearing.

“It was disgusting, it was horrible and very hurtful.”

Ramsay said he’s hoping action will be taken in terms of a police investigation into the incident.

The hearing was pushed back to 11:30 a.m. and was held on Microsoft Teams. Top Stories

Stay Connected