OH teacher with fear of younger-aged children files lawsuit

MARIEMONT, OH (FOX19) - A former Ohio teacher is suing the district for discrimination.

Maria Waltherr-Willard, who taught foreign language at Mariemont schools in the Cincinnati area for 35 years, claims the district moved her from the high school to the junior high, despite knowing that she allegedly suffers from a phobia of younger-aged children.

She says what happened to her is a form of discrimination.

On the flip side, the school district says no positions were available at the high school to transfer her back there.

She is no longer teaching for the school system.

She filed this lawsuit in June of 2012, after she claims she was forced into medical retirement because of work place stress.

"As a former teacher myself, I think it is ridiculous," said Carolyn Lunt, a former teacher.

"I think we have to respect people's health issues, but she's in an interesting line of work considering her condition," explained Dave MacDonald, who works in Mariemont.

According to court documents, Waltherr-Willard taught French and Spanish classes at the high school level for 35 years.

Throughout her career she did teach some junior high classes.

In 1997, she alleged she was assigned to teach classes to students in elementary school and the prospect of this caused her extreme anxiety.

The same year, she made an agreement with the school that she would no longer be expected to teach outside of the high school.

"I cannot see there would be that much difference between high school and middle school," Lunt added. "Having taught all ages it really is pretty consistent. "

At an unspecified time during her career, Waltherr-Willard was diagnosed with specific phobia and general anxiety disorder.

After being transferred to the junior high school during the 2010-2011 school year, she made a formal request to return to the high school. She said she was being underutilized and teaching at the junior high would be a further detriment to her health.

"Just looking at it you know, top line kind of stuff, I'd say it's an interesting case and it sounds like an uphill battle on her part."

Mariemont City Schools and Waltherr-Willard's attorney declined to comment while litigation is pending.

Copyright 2013 WXIX. All rights reserved.