Disabled former teacher settles discrimination lawsuit

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

Years after a disabled Knox County teacher claimed she was harassed, denied a promotion and reasonable accommodations, she said the board of education has agreed to a settlement $52,000.

Cathy Rhoden said it all started four years ago when a new principal came to Knox Central High School and she was unable to get simple accommodations made for her disability.

Rhoden said she felt unwanted after teaching at Knox Central High School for nearly two decades when a new principal took over a few years ago.

“I had had 504 accommodations prior to him coming, but since he was a new person, I felt it important to introduce myself and my conditions and the accommodations,” Roden said.

She said she thought that was a simple request for someone with limited mobility due to a progressive neurological condition.

“The things I asked for didn’t cost money, things like a restroom key to the closest restroom, a bench for hall duty and just small things like that,” said Rhoden.

When she said those accommodations were not met, she contacted the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights in the spring of 2008.

“What I hoped in the beginning, when I filed the grievance was just that I would continue working and the accommodations would be put into place,” said Rhoden.

She said a hearing was scheduled for this month, but a settlement was made before that took place.

Rhoden said that she did receive more than $50,000 in compensation, but she said she cannot put a price on what she had to endure through the process.

“You can't change what happened, i feel good that this is behind me, that there is an end after four years,” said Rhoden. \
“It is not a happy ending, but I am happy that it is over.”

Rhoden said the principal had since been removed by the state.

Knox County Schools Superintendent Walter Hulett said he could not confirm that a settlement had been made and said he did not have any comment.

Rhoden did have paperwork that indicated a settlement had been made.

She said she felt she was forced to resign in 2010 and hopes to one day have a going away celebration with her previous students.

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