Tag Archives: ADA/504

Bulletin: DAD Bites Kid

Jeff was a very good service dog. He was certified as a DAD—Diabetic Alert Dog—and he came to school each day with a little boy identified in the case as A.P.  Jeff was trained to alert when the boy’s blood sugar level needed attention.

Jeff started coming to school in February, 2015, when the boy was in 2nd grade.  Jeff was a regular at the school for the rest of that year, and most of the next.  But on March 23, 2016, something happened, and the district expelled Jeff for misconduct.

The kids were sitting in the hallway that morning on either side of the hall just before classes began in the morning. Jeff was tethered to A.P.  When a 3rd grader ran down the hall and attempted to leap over Jeff, the dog “lunged, snapped, and bit” the student.  The bite went all the way through the jeans and punctured the skin.

The parents, who had paid $15,000 for Jeff, sued the school, claiming that the exclusion of the dog was a violation of the ADA and Section 504.  Initially the parents sought an injunction to allow Jeff to continue to accompany the boy at school. The court denied the injunction, noting that the evidence showed that the dog presented a direct threat.  Key Quote:

This is not a case in which the District denied the use of a service dog as a reasonable accommodation because of unfounded assumptions about the service animal. Rather, the District appropriately excluded this particular service animal under the explicit provisions of the implementing regulations, based on the known and observed inappropriate actions of this particular service animal—biting a student in school.


The case is A.P. v. Pennsbury School District, decided by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on August 26, 2016.  We found it at 68 IDELR 132.


File this one under: ADA/504

Whatever happened to that teacher whose disability was a fear of children?

It’s understandable that the case of The Teacher Who Was Afraid of Children got a lot of attention and generated considerable ridicule. In fact, however, Ms. Maria Waltherr-Willard was not afraid of all children—just those under the age of 12.  Thus she was a successful teacher at the high school in Mariemont City, Ohio.

In 1997, after Ms. Willard had taught at the high school for 20 years, she was asked to move to the elementary.  Ms. Willard promptly produced a letter from a psychologist, who had diagnosed the teacher with “pedophobia.” The district backed off on the reassignment, and Ms. Willard taught for another 12 years at the high school.

For the 2010-11 school year, the superintendent reassigned Ms. Willard to middle school. According to the court, “Willard did not object to the new assignment, and later expressed ‘enthusiasm’ for teaching middle schoolers.”

But it didn’t last.  Six months into the year, Ms. Willard declared herself “underutilized” at the middle school and asked for a transfer to the high school. Noting that there were no vacancies at the high school, the superintendent turned her down, while offering the customary promise to “keep your request on file.”

Shortly thereafter, Ms. Willard resigned.  Then she sued.

The 6th Circuit affirmed a decision in favor of the school district.  However, there is very little discussion about the anomaly of a public school teacher with “pedophobia.” The court simply noted that there was no opening for her at the high school, and thus accommodating her disability would have been “unreasonable.” The court noted that the Americans with Disabilities Act “requires an employer to accommodate a disabled employee, but it does not require unreasonable accommodations.”

Notice: the district did not blow off the unusual diagnosis. It took it seriously and accommodated Ms. Willard when it could by backing off on the proposed transfer to the elementary.  The district re-assigned her to the middle school with no objection, and turned down her request to go back to the high school because it had a good reason to do so.

The case is Waltherr-Willard v. Mariemont City Schools, decided by the 6th Circuit on February 11, 2015.  We found it at 601 Fed. App’x. 385 and at 2015 WL 542944.