Trials & Litigation

Teacher with child phobia sues school for disability discrimination, says she was forced to retire


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A high school French teacher in Ohio has sued her district, contending that her reassignment to a school that has elementary students constituted disability discrimination because she has a phobic fear of young children.

Maria C. Waltherr-Willard, 61, had taught for decades in the Mariemont School District, which allegedly accommodated her disability, according to ABC News, the Daily Mail and the New York Daily News.

But, after she spoke to students’ parents about the district’s plan to offer French classes only online, and the parents subsequently complained to the district, she was reassigned to teach Spanish to junior high students, Waltherr-Willard says. She retired in 2011 after the district refused to transfer her to a high school class that she said was being taught by a less-experienced Spanish teacher and filed suit in federal court last year alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Three of the six counts in the suit were dismissed last week, including a claim that the district breached an agreement not to transfer her to a school with young children. However, her ADA claims are currently still alive.

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