Defamation
Defamation

Principal wins pre-trial stoush against parents

A Gold Coast couple who face losing their home after they were accused of defaming a school principal on Facebook by calling her "evil", have been dealt a serious blow to their case, just weeks before trial.

Donna and Miguel Baluskas, from Robina, have had their bid to add on new defences knocked back by District Court judge David Kent in a decision handed down on Friday.

The pair, whose 12-year-old son only attended Tamborine Mountain State High School (TMSHS) for two weeks before he was expelled in 2014, are now fundraising for an appeal.

They had earlier filed defences, but wished to change them after hiring a new solicitor.

Three years ago TMSHS principal Tracey Brose sued the pair, and three others, claiming she was defamed by posts they made on Facebook in March 2016 after a petition was posted about Mrs Brose's suspension by the education department, the court was told.

Donna Baluskas posted on the change.org petition on March 7, 2016: "About time something is done about this evil, nasty, horrible women (SIC). She makes my blood boil and bought (SIC) so much pain and stress upon our family and many others. All because our kids aren't "A" students which will effect her overall school ratings".

 

Three years ago TMSHS principal Tracey Brose sued the pair, and three others, claiming she was defamed by posts they made on Facebook in March 2016 after a petition was posted about Mrs Brose’s suspension by the education department, the court was told. Picture: Adam Head
Three years ago TMSHS principal Tracey Brose sued the pair, and three others, claiming she was defamed by posts they made on Facebook in March 2016 after a petition was posted about Mrs Brose’s suspension by the education department, the court was told. Picture: Adam Head

 

Miguel Baluskas posted "What a joke! I can't believe that it has taken the Education Department this long to react to the numerous complaints of parents that have confronted her on the way she would handle situations regarding their child. She thinks she is investigator, judge, jury and executioner and not a good one at that. She is not interested in the kids that don't fit the norm of education only high achievers. The only skill she had learnt in the last 16 years is the gift of the gag. Good riddens (SIC)."

In refusing their application to plead further defences Judge Kent said that many of Donna and Miguel's defences were "too vague to disclose a reasonable defence" or required "a giant leap of logic which is in no way justified by the pleaded conduct".

The pair even tried to argue that Ms Brose was "evil" in suing them because her motive was "to stifle or suppress the expression of dissent about her", but Judge Kent struck this defence out.

Tamborine Mountain State High School.
Tamborine Mountain State High School.

Judge Kent has granted Mr Baluskas permission to claim the defence of justification in relation to one point, in relation to an "interaction" in March 2015 between Mrs Brose a student and her mother.

Mr and Mrs Baluskas tried use suspension statistics compiled about TMSHS to defend the defamation claim, the court heard.

"The theory seems to be that because the suspensions and exclusions at the plaintiff's school are higher than the mathematical average, something nefarious must be going on. In my view the logic simply does not follow without further pleaded facts," Judge Kent argued.

Ms Baluskas tried to introduce evidence of Ms Brose interviewing a child without a parent present as an example of her "evil", however Judge Kent ruled Ms Brose's actions were "consistent with a teacher properly performing her duties and could not be relied upon to justify an imputation that she is evil".

Ms Brose is suing five parents, each for $220,000.

The trial set to begin on October 8 for three weeks.



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