United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
STENGEL, C. J.
action arises under the Americans with Disabilities Act of
1990, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.
and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, as amended, 43 P.S.
§ 951, et seq. The ADA provides a clear and
comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of
discrimination against individuals with disabilities.
Quakertown Community School District has filed a motion to
dismiss the second amended complaint, and Plaintiff Michael
Huff has responded. For the following reasons, I will deny
the defendant's motion in its entirety.
second amended complaint alleges the following: Mr. Huff
began working for the defendant in 2005 as an instructional
support, regular education teacher at Quakertown High School.
In February of the 2005-2006 school year, the plaintiff was
offered and accepted an administrative position as a special
education supervisor for the school district.
the nature of working in a special education environment, the
plaintiff suffered an anxiety attack and was hospitalized.
The plaintiff subsequently has received regular mental health
treatment for his anxiety.
his anxiety attack, the plaintiff met with Dr. James
Newcomer, who was the defendant's assistant
superintendent at the time. Following their meeting, the
plaintiff requested a transfer out of special education in
order to accommodate his anxiety. Within a week of the
plaintiff's request, the plaintiff was transferred back
to his original position of instructional support, regular
education teacher at Quakertown High School. It is not
contested by the parties that the plaintiff was, at all
relevant times, disabled within the meaning of the ADA and
the 2008-2009 school year, the plaintiff worked as a regular
education/cyber education teacher at Quakertown High School.
The following year, the plaintiff worked as a regular
education/cyber education teacher at Strayer Middle School.
March 2011, Cindy Lipinski, who was the principal at Strayer
Middle School, asked the plaintiff if he was interested in
teaching special education at the Middle School for the
upcoming school year, 2011-2012. The plaintiff notified Ms.
Lipinski of his anxiety condition and stated he would not be
able to handle the mental rigors and unique stress of
teaching special education. Despite the notification of his
disability and his request not to be placed in a special
education position, Ms. Lipinski notified the plaintiff in
March 2011 that he would be placed in a special education
teaching position at Strayer Middle School for the following
the 2011-2012 school year, the plaintiff was placed on a
“performance improvement plan.” The
plaintiff's supervisors regularly visited his classroom
without warning to observe the plaintiff's classroom.
Other special education teachers without disabilities and/or
who had not requested accommodations for a disability were
not subjected to the same treatment. At the end of that
school year, the plaintiff requested that the defendant
accommodate his disability by transferring him out of the
special education position and placing him back into a
regular teaching position because the position in special
education was exacerbating his anxiety. The defendant denied
the plaintiff's request. Ms. Lipinski told the plaintiff
that due to the district's policy, individuals on
performance improvement plans could not be transferred.
plaintiff remained in the special education position and his
anxiety worsened. Because of his worsening anxiety, the
plaintiff utilized a paid sick leave sabbatical for the
2013-2014 school year.
his return from sabbatical in August 2014, the plaintiff
requested the defendant accommodate him by transferring him
from special education to a regular education position. The
plaintiff's treating physician had placed restrictions on
the plaintiff due to his worsened anxiety and only cleared
him to return with part-time hours if he was to remain in a
special education position. The plaintiff was also able to
return in a full-time non-special education position, which
was available and for which the plaintiff was qualified.
Although the plaintiff had been on sabbatical and not working
during the 2013-2014 school year, the defendant denied the
plaintiff's request, telling the plaintiff that it was
the district's policy not to transfer an individual who
was on a performance improvement plan. The defendant instead
offered the plaintiff a part-time position in a special
he did not consider the part-time special education teacher
position to be a reasonable accommodation because it required
a significant salary decrease from a full time position, the
plaintiff accepted the position for the 2014-2015 school
year. This position was the only offer made to the plaintiff
by the defendant.
plaintiff remained on a performance improvement plan during
the 2014-2015 school year. The plaintiff's supervisors
regularly came without warning to observe his classroom,
despite not subjecting other special education teachers