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Ohio ex-teacher sues, says she fears young kids

This 2011 photo shows Maria Waltherr-Willard, 61, who taught Spanish and French at Mariemont High School in Cincinnati from 1976 until 2009, when she was transferred to the district's middle school. Waltherr-Willard is suing the school district where she used to work, accusing its administrators of discriminating against her because of a rare phobia she says she has: a fear of young children. Waltherr-Willard says the seventh- and eighth-graders at the middle school triggered her phobia, and she was forced to retire in the middle of the 2010-2011 school year. (AP Photo/Community Press, Heidi Fallon)  MANDATORY CREDIT; NO SALES

This 2011 photo shows Maria Waltherr-Willard, 61, who taught Spanish and French at Mariemont High School in Cincinnati from 1976 until 2009, when she was transferred to the district's middle school. Waltherr-Willard is suing the school district where she used to work, accusing its administrators of discriminating against her because of a rare phobia she says she has: a fear of young children. Waltherr-Willard says the seventh- and eighth-graders at the middle school triggered her phobia, and she was forced to retire in the middle of the 2010-2011 school year. (AP Photo/Community Press, Heidi Fallon) MANDATORY CREDIT; NO SALES

A former high school teacher is accusing school district administrators of discriminating against her because of a rare phobia she says she has: a fear of young children.

Maria Waltherr-Willard, 61, had been teaching Spanish and French at Mariemont High School in Cincinnati since 1976.

Waltherr-Willard, who does not have children of her own, said that 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.

In her lawsuit against the district, filed in federal court in Cincinnati, Waltherr-Willard 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 the high school.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Gary Winters, the school district’s attorney, said that Waltherr-Willard was transferred because the French program at the high school was being turned into an online one and the middle school needed a Spanish teacher.

“She wants money,” Winters said of Waltherr-Willard’s motivation to sue. “Let’s keep in mind that our goal here is to provide the best teachers for students and the best academic experience for students, which certainly wasn’t accomplished by her walking out on them in the middle of the year.”

Waltherr-Willard and her attorney did not return calls for comment yesterday.

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