Lawsuit: Elmhurst teacher says district retaliated when she complained about mold

  • A teacher at Lincoln Elementary School is suing Elmhurst Unit District 205, saying officials retaliated when she complained that mold at the school was harming her health.

    A teacher at Lincoln Elementary School is suing Elmhurst Unit District 205, saying officials retaliated when she complained that mold at the school was harming her health. Daily Herald file photo/April 2017

 
 
Updated 5/24/2020 8:15 AM

A teacher is suing Elmhurst Unit District 205, saying it retaliated when she complained that mold at Lincoln Elementary School was harming her health.

Nora Fox filed the federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging the district violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Illinois Human Rights Act.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The district's spokeswoman said Friday that officials will not comment on the suit.

"The school district is aware of the lawsuit filed by Ms. Fox. However, it is not the practice of District 205 to comment on pending litigation," Beverly Redmond said.

In the suit, Fox said she started working as a teacher at Lincoln in 2005.

The suit said the school regularly floods and that mold is evident throughout the ventilation system and on materials. A mushroom once grew on a classroom floor, the suit claims.

In 2014, her health began to deteriorate and Fox was diagnosed as having a "severe mold allergy" that causes pain, fatigue, rashes, gastrointestinal distress and breathing issues, the suit says.

Fox asked the district in 2016 to replace the air conditioning unit in her classroom, which she contends had not been cleaned in 12 years, and to address issues with the ventilation system. The air conditioning unit was replaced.

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In 2017 she asked to move to a classroom in a newer section of the building but was refused, according to the suit.

In 2018 she was made a reading specialist, visiting with students throughout the building, the suit states. But her workspace was located in the basement, which has flooded. She asked a teacher if she could work in a back corner of a classroom and did so for half the 2018-19 school year.

But in January 2019, the suit says, the principal ordered her to return to the basement room, which had been remodeled. Fox maintains the district merely replaced carpeting and drywall, and there was still evidence of water damage.

The basement flooded again that month, and she was moved to a room in the older section of the building.

Fox says in the suit that the principal retaliated by requiring her to attend weekly sessions outlining educational goals for her students. The principal also moved all staff and committee meetings out of a classroom and into the basement when there were other rooms available, according to the suit.

In the spring of 2019, she took a four-week medical leave, the suit states. She seeks compensation for the sick leave because if she didn't have to use it, she could cash it out when she retires.

Parts of the school at 565 Fairfield Ave. are 105 years old. The district plans to replace it in 2021.

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