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Teacher Who Fears Children Sues Employer For Discrimination

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An Ohio teacher who has a phobia of children is suing the school district that employed her for discrimination by not accommodating her disability.

I could just stop here. There is really nothing more outlandish that I could conjure up. However, I just can't help myself.....

The teacher has taught Spanish and French in a Cincinnati High School since 1976. However, due to curriculum changes, the French classes were being discontinued, and she was transferred to a middle school to teach Spanish there. That was in 2009, and apparently the "seventh- and eighth-graders triggered her phobia, causing her blood pressure to soar". She says this forced her to retire in the middle of the 2010-2011 school year.

According to court records, the teacher has been receiving treatment for her phobia since 1991. In addition to her fear of children, she also suffers from general anxiety disorder, high blood pressure and a gastrointestinal illness.

Do I need to state the obvious? A teacher with a fear of children? How about a policeman with an irrational fear of criminals? A bus driver with a phobia for driving? A computer programmer with a fear of technology? A blogger afraid of keyboards?

Stop the accommodation merry-go-round, I want to get off.

I sympathize with the teacher in a way. Today's seventh and eighth graders scare the bejesus out of me. I wouldn't want to be trapped in a room full of them either. However, I did not choose a profession that kind of sort of maybe predisposes oneself for exposure to them. And that is my issue. It is not like an insurance company took a lowly claims person and without warning tossed them to the auditors. This was a teacher. Kids kind of go with the whole package.

Why is the school district now responsible for her exposure to them?

The teacher claims that this has cost her “over $100,000” in lost wages. The attorney for the school board questions that number, as she currently is receiving 89% of her $80,000 salary in retirement. This is just continued nanny state inanity, if you ask me.

If I am wrong, I need to speak to my lawyer. My keyboard is really creeping me out…..

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Subscribe to comments feed Comments (7 posted)

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Vic Bitel 01/17/2013 23:03:03
Bob,

I found your lighthearted run up of this teacher very trite and condescending. People are not born with a Phobia to children. This type of mental problem usually originates from an aversive or traumatizing event in the person's life such as being physically assaulted, threatened with a weapon, etc.

Perhaps your Worker's Compensation skills may be a bit rusty here. It seems your investigation of this teacher's claim is incomplete. You may have made a rush to judgement with your "Nanny State" assumption.

It is my understanding that Language Instructors are a rather rare breed. They tend to be well trained and certified. The fact that this particular teacher began her career in 1976 but did not begin treatment until 1991 would seem to indicate that this likely not a simple case of "a teacher with a fear of children". More telling, is the fact that she continued to treat and work through the 2009 school year. That would be more characteristic of a person struggling to cope with a legitimate mental illness.

I'm of the opinion that there is probably a lot more to this story than you let onto. Accusatory generalizations do nothing to resolve this former teacher's ADA standing. Posting them before the appointed authorities have completed their due process only serves to further erode the status of teachers in general. At a time when educators laid down their lives for their students at Sandy Hook, I find your remarks in poor taste.

I would prefer for you to have waited for the outcome of this teacher's lawsuit before connecting your dots and tossing whole classes of employees under the proverbial bus. The courts in Ohio seem quite capable of allowing a full discovery before ruling on the merits of this case. They at least, deserve the opportunity to do their job.

Sincerely,

Vic Bitel
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Bob Wilson 01/18/2013 06:58:00
Vic, this has nothing to do with teachers at Sandy Hook. If you wish to comment on them, you should do so on the post I wrote about them.

The Associated Press took this teachers story "wide", not me. I only speak of her in concept, not even identifying her by name. The notion that no one may discuss or opine on a topic until "the authorities are through" is absurd.

I am not being trite about this woman's condition, which is no doubt serious. I am being trite regarding the concept that her employer is now financially responsible because of it. The nanny state reference is to the notion that our government, and by extension all employers, are now responsible for making everything equal in a world where nature makes things decidedly different. Some "reasonable accommodations" are, in my opinion anything but. The courts will ultimately decide that.

Doesn't mean free men and women cannot speak in the meantime.
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Howard Deever 01/18/2013 11:46:27
My radar always goes to hi-lock when someone calls teachers 'educators'. Invariably such folks have, shall I say, 'unorthodox' ideas about the realities of human nature & behaviors. (Disclosure: my four kids were all taught at home, mostly by their Mom, a former RN. No 'educator' was ever involved. Thus far they've all somehow managed to be college honors students/graduates, & exemplary employees...) On topical point, though, I'm much less diplomatic than the moderator & so suggest that this 'educator' is simply working a scam, of which I've seen disproportionately many in a past that includes trying to manage claims filed by unionized 'public servants'-teachers, cops, firemen. Sorry. No sympathy from THIS taxpayer. The financial burden such people have placed upon us is incalculable, & a significant factor in America's looming de facto bankruptcy.
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Margaret 02/10/2014 23:22:57
Educator? That's me! Spending my days trying to give a clue to America's youth... Hoping to make a difference. Some excel. Some don't. All make their way in the world somehow.... Sincerely,
ur ex (Howard), Margaret :)
PS. Sorry to read of the loss of ur mom. Can relate. Lost my brother Michael last month. And BTW, where did u go on FB?
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John 01/18/2013 11:53:23
How does talking about one teacher indict an entire profession? What the hell does Sandy Hook have to do with this? There was a tragedy therefore no one may speak ill of any other (completely unrelated) situation?

Vic, you're off base on this one buddy.
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Allen Safrin 01/23/2013 10:42:16
There is no mention of the teacher filing a workers' compensation claim. Irrespective of the merits, it seems somewhat surprising.
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Gregg Perkins 01/31/2013 15:42:25
I just got around to reading your blog.

A few years ago, we administered a work comp claim for a teacher who claimed to be allergic to books. The accomodation required his students to leave their books outside of the class room.

We had another work comp claim for a teacher who claimed to be allergic to deodorant and perfume worn by her students. The accomodation required that her students not wear such substances in her class room.
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