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Teacher Turmoil

January 22, 2013
Times Leader

PEDOPHOBIA, "an irrational fear or dislike of young children," isn't common, but a 61-year-old retired high school teacher contends that she suffers from it, and she has filed lawsuit charging discrimination against the school district in which she had worked.

Maria Waltherr-Willard, who had taught Spanish and French at Mariemont High School in Cincinnati since 1976, said when she was transferred to the district's middle school in 2009, the seventh- and eighth-graders triggered her phobia, causing her blood pressure to soar and forcing her to retire in the middle of the 2010-11 school year.

The school district's attorney said she was transferred because the high school French program was turned into an online course, and a Spanish teacher was needed in the middle school. District officials report there are no positions in the high school for her transfer back there.

In her suit, the woman said her fear of young children falls under the federal American with Disabilities Act, and that the district violated it by transferring her in the first place and then refusing to allow her to return to high school.

She also has added an age discrimination clause to her suit.

A trial concerning the suit is planned in February. Three of the former teacher's claims have been dismissed by a judge, but the discrimination claims remain.

Mental health care professionals claim that pedophobia is a serious matter that can cause several health problems should the individual with the phobia come in close proximity to young children.

Waltherr-Willard's lawsuit contends she has lost out on at least $100,000 of potential income as a result of her retirement.

The school district's attorney said that doesn't make sense, considering her take from retirement is 89 percent of what her annual salary was, which was around $80,000.

The ex-teacher contends she was promised that she would not have to teach young children because of her reaction to them.

SEVENTH and eighth graders aren't adults, but they aren't exactly young children either.

It seems strange that Waltherr-Willard would become a teacher if she suffers from pedophobia.

There are no guarantees in this world, and considering economical conditions faced by school districts, it doesn't seem out of reason for teaching changes to be made.

 
 

 

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