A teacher from Mariemont, Ohio, is suing her school district, claiming discrimination. What makes the case unique is that the teacher, Maria Waltherr-Willard, suffers from pedophobia, a crippling fear of young children. She claims her disability led to the discrimination.
We first saw the news over at the Cincinnati.com. The paper reports that Waltherr-Willard began her career as a high school teacher, a position she held for decades. She was reassigned to teach in a junior high in 2010, despite, she claims, being assured earlier in her career that she would not have to teach younger children.
According to the Enquirer, pedophobia can lead to shortness of breath, vomiting and feelings of terror when around young children. Waltherr-Willard claims that she was discriminated against based on her age (she’s 61) and her disability.
“It’s a tough phobia. You can’t really get away from [children] when you’re outside,” Dr. Caleb Adler, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati, told Cincinnati.com. Adler did not treat Waltherr-Willard.
The backstory, as described by the Enquirer, goes as follows: Waltherr-Willard taught foreign languages in high school for many years. Several years ago, word got to her that her district was considering putting those classes online, a move that would have had an effect on her position.
Waltherr-Willard apparently spoke to parents about the district’s decision to eliminate face-to-face French courses. Parents spoke out, and the district was not amused that one of its teachers was stirring the pot. Waltherr-Willard claims she was sent to teach at junior high as a kind of punishment for speaking out. She eventually resigned her position.
“Good Morning America” reports that the lawsuit says “both parties agreed the phobia and anxiety disorder fell under the Americans With Disabilities Act and exempted her from future transfers within the school district.”
Parts of the lawsuit have already been dismissed by a federal judge. Three allegations remain. The case is scheduled to go to court in early 2014.
This is ridiculous. There was always the possibility that as a teacher she might be called to teach younger students. If the presence of children really makes her anxious, than she shouldn’t be teaching. I am a little bit concerned about the seeming expansion of the definition of disabilities under the Americans With Disabilities Act. It seems to me that before too much longer everybody will be considered disabled.
- Teacher with fear of young kids sues Ohio district (onlineathens.com)
- Teacher with fear of young kids sues Ohio district (news.yahoo.com)
- Teacher Is Terrified by Children (offmymedsagain.wordpress.com)
- Teacher Afraid Of Small Children Sues School (purposegiven.wordpress.com)
- Teacher who fears kids sues Mariemont (wcpo.com)