Published Online: January 23, 2013
Published in Print: January 23, 2013, as Teacher Claims Bias Over Fear of Children

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Teacher Claims Bias Over Fear of Children

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A former teacher is suing the Cincinnati school district, saying administrators discriminated against her because she has a rare phobia: a fear of young children.

Maria Waltherr-Willard, 61, had been teaching Spanish and French to teenagers in Ohio since 1976.

Ms. Waltherr-Willard, who does not have children, was transferred to another school in the 33,700-student Cincinnati district with younger students in 2009. She says the younger students triggered her phobia, caused her blood pressure to soar, and forced her to retire.

Her lawsuit says her fear of young children falls under the federal American with Disabilities Act and that the district violated it by transferring her and not letting her go back to her former school. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Gary Winters, the school district's attorney, said the teacher was transferred because the French program at her school was being turned into an online offering and the other school needed a Spanish teacher.

The lawsuit said Ms. Waltherr-Willard has been treated for her phobia since 1991.

Vol. 32, Issue 18, Page 5

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