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Alyce Kaplan v. New Trier High School

May 31, 2011

ALYCE KAPLAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEW TRIER HIGH SCHOOL, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge George M. Marovich

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Alyce Kaplan ("Kaplan") filed against New Trier High School ("New Trier") a complaint in which she asserts claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA") and Illinois common law. Defendant moves to dismiss the claims. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants defendant's motion.

I. Background

For purposes of this motion to dismiss, the Court takes as true the allegations in Kaplan's complaint and also considers the documents attached to and referenced in the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c).

Defendant New Trier is a public high school in Winnetka. Plaintiff Kaplan is a special education teacher. New Trier has employed plaintiff since 1984.

During the entirety of her employment with New Trier, Kaplan has had Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes. Over time, Kaplan's diabetes has caused complications, including diabetic retinopathy. This has permanently reduced Kaplan's visual acuity in both eyes and has caused her to lose some peripheral vision. In addition, the diabetes has caused Kaplan to suffer joint swelling and pain and decreased tactile sensation.

These symptoms made it difficult for Kaplan to keep up with one of her duties, which was to document in writing the individualized education plans (IEPs) she developed with students' parents. It was difficult for Kaplan to type the IEPs during meetings with parents, so, prior to 2006, Kaplan gave parents handwritten IEPs and then mailed typewritten IEPs at a later date.

Over the years, Kaplan has asked for accommodations to assist her. When, in 2007, Kaplan had difficulty seeing the computer screens for New Trier's new IEP software, Kaplan asked to be assisted by a teacher's aide. In September 2007, Kaplan requested that she be allowed additional time to complete her IEPs. In December 2007, Kaplan requested the help of a temporary "scribe" to assist her with finishing her IEPs on time. On January 16, 2008, New Trier's Director of Special Education told Kaplan that she would be provided with 11"x17" large-font copies of her students' IEPs, along with fill-in-the-blank forms to write her IEPs by hand. Kaplan did not receive these accommodations.

What Kaplan received was criticism about her performance. On January 23, 2008, Kaplan met with Department Chair Ronald Simon ("Simon"). Simon criticized Kaplan for her delayed IEP paperwork and unexcused absences. The same day, Simon placed a disciplinary letter in Kaplan's personnel file.

One week later, Kaplan discussed possible accommodations with the Human Resources office. Kaplan was promised (by whom, it is not clear) a 28-inch computer monitor and a printer that could print 11"x17" documents. New Trier provided these accommodations within a month.

After that, New Trier continued to discipline Kaplan. On April 28, 2008, the Director of Curriculum place a disciplinary letter in Kaplan's personnel file. The letter accused Kaplan ofunilaterally changing a student's IEP. On May 29, 2008, the Director of Human Resources placed another disciplinary letter in Kaplan's personnel file. This letter accused Kaplan of not completing written IEPs on time. On June 3, 2008, the Director of Special Education and the Director of Human Resources met with Kaplan and informed her that she had received an unsatisfactory rating on her biennial review and would be subject to a remediation plan.

Plaintiff continued to request accommodations. In August 2008, Kaplan requested additional technological support. (It is not clear from the complaint what, specifically, Kaplan requested.) New Trier did not provide the requested accommodation.

Eventually (and it is not clear when), Kaplan took sick leave. The complaint suggests that Kaplan never returned to her job at New Trier. She alleges that, with a reasonable accommodation, she could.

On July 15, 2008, Kaplan filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") a charge of discrimination. In her charge, Kaplan checked the boxes for discrimination based on retaliation and disability. Kaplan listed January 23, 2008 as the "earliest" and June 26, ...


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