Can a teacher in the Leadership Academy who has a disabled child in the NYC Public School system maintain an ADA claim when she alleges she was terminated from her position due to her advocacy for her child?

Yes. Mandy Ehrlich, a New York City public school teacher since 1996 was accepted into the aspiring principals program of the New York City Leadership Academy in 2011. The Leadership Academy trains teachers to become administrators through a year long program in which they receive administrator pay, attend a summer program, and are “shadow-trained” by experienced administrators for 10 months. These mentor principals rate the aspiring teacher on a Leadership Academy matrix as pass or fail.

Ms. Ehrlich has a daughter who, due to her physical disabilities, received special education services. During the time that Ehrlich was attending the Leadership Academy two therapists, assigned to her daughter, were replaced. Ehrlich was not satisfied with the services her daughter was receiving and began to make inquiry about how to obtain a Related Service Arrangement (R.S.A.) which would allow for services to be paid by the DOE for outside, usually private, service providers.

A colleague from Ehrlich’s Leadership Academy class was assigned to her daughter’s school and after consulting with the school’s principal was directed to discuss the matter with her Leadership Academy colleague. After being referred to the district administrator for special education services the RSA was denied and Ehrlich was dismissed from her position at the Leadership Academy after an investigation revealed that her advocacy for her child had “crossed a line between the professional and personal.”

Ehrlich commenced an action in the Federal Court, Southern District of New York, claiming she was denied her position at the Leadership Academy in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act for her actions as an advocate for her child. The DOE moves to dismiss the matter and Judge Alvin Hellerstein denied the application who found that a reasonable jury could find a violation of the ADA.

Ehrlich v New York City Leadership Academy

 

 

 

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