February 13, 2009

Teacher’s hubby argues for dust mask

The husband of an Illinois teacher with severe asthma told the school board that not allowing his wife to wear a respiratory mask at work violates the law.

Roger McReynolds said his wife, Patricia McReynolds, 53, does not need to wear the mask in her classroom at A.O. Marshall Elementary in Joliet because there is an air filter in the room, but she needs the protection to breath the air elsewhere in the school without risking an asthma attack, the Joliet Herald-News reported Friday.

Roger McReynolds told the school board Wednesday night that barring his wife from wearing the dust mask is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008, which expanded the definition of disability to include respiration problems and other major bodily functions. He said his wife has notes from three doctors stating that she needs to wear the mask at work.

School board President Jeff Pritz said the situation would be investigated.

Christopher Ward, the district's chief officer for legal services and labor relations, earlier wrote a letter to the teacher expressing the district's concern that the wearing of the mask was causing unwarranted disruption and alarm.

Patricia McReynolds said she will likely file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.