Tamborine Mountain State High School Principal Tracey Brose who is suing for defamation. Picture: Jason O'Brien
Tamborine Mountain State High School Principal Tracey Brose who is suing for defamation. Picture: Jason O'Brien

High price of school principal Facebook post

A COUPLE accused of defaming their son's school principal on Facebook have been ordered to pay the principal $32,968 in court costs after losing a key pre-trial battle.

Donna Baluskas and her husband Miguel, from Robina on the Gold Coast, were ordered to pay the money to Tamborine Mountain State High School (TMSHS) Principal Tracey Brose by Judge David Kent on July 19 after they failed in their battle to block the striking-out of most of their defence pleadings.

The couple, who earlier said they would face losing their family home if they lost cost orders in the case, are understood to have failed to stump up with the money

They declined to comment for this story.

Donna Baluskas now has effectively no defence to the defamation suit and Miguel has a greatly trimmed-down defence. He is claiming the defence of justification.

The $1 million case is due back in court on Thursday in the District Court in Southport before trial Judge Catherine Muir to finalise plans for the three week judge-only hearing, set to start on October 8.

Parent Donna Baluskas. Picture: Adam Head
Parent Donna Baluskas. Picture: Adam Head

Meanwhile last week Facebook, a counselling service from Beaudesert, web-petition company Change.org and the state Education Department were dragged into the stoush, with the District Court issuing formal demands forcing the companies to hand over confidential documents related to children named in the case to Mrs Brose's lawyers.

The notices are part of pre-trial discovery related to key issues in dispute.

Mrs Brose is claiming damages of $220,000 each from five parents of former students at the school, of which Mrs Brose remains principal.

Already one parent sued for defamation, school lollipop lady Trudie Arnold, from Canungra, has filed for bankruptcy.

When she launched the case more than three years ago, Mrs Brose sued eight parents, but she settled against three out of court.

Donna and Miguel Baluskas were sued over comments they made on Facebook and a Change.org petition in March 2016, two years after their son Harrison, then aged 12, was expelled by Mrs Brose from TMSHS.

Mrs Brose is alleged to have told Donna Baluskas that Harrison was "a sexual predator" and that she and her husband "had blinkers on" and were "in denial" after he said "show me your dick" to another student on the school bus in February 2014, according to court documents.

Mrs Baluskas is alleged to have called Mrs Brose an "evil, nasty, horrible women (SIC)" on Facebook.

Grocery merchandiser and mother-of-three Laura Lawson, 49, from Coomera has pleaded the defence of justification to imputations that her Facebook posts implied Mrs Brose "is petty, small minded and spiteful in her enforcement of school rules".

Mrs Brose suspended Mrs Lawson's middle son from TMSHS because another student wrote an "unsavoury phrase" on his fibreglass arm cast, and her eldest son was sent home because he had an eyebrow piercing, court documents state.

Parent Laura Lawson
Parent Laura Lawson

Parent and aged care nurse Charmaine Proudlock was sued over comments she posted on Facebook in March 2016 after daughter Jordyn was expelled in 2014.

Mrs Brose alleges Mrs Proudlock's comments implied Mrs Brose "had a horrendous attitude to those she felt were beneath her" and was "a bad Principal" and "tried to destroy" Jordyn's future.

Mrs Proudlock has admitted the defamatory imputations and relies on the defence of justification and triviality.

Facebook has been given until September 5 to reveal the number of people who viewed the allegedly defamatory posts, the number of "likes" and comments.

All parents have pleaded that the scope of publication of their Facebook comments was "limited" but Mrs Brose argues the comments were likely published to a "many more people".

Counselling service Beaucare has been ordered to give to Mrs Brose's lawyers documents recording counselling Jordyn Proudlock received while at TMSHS, and disciplinary action against her.

The department of education has been ordered to give Mrs Brose their disciplinary and academic records of the Baluskas's son, and Mrs Lawson's son Drew, and Jordyn Proudlock.

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