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Ohio teacher cites fear of children in discrimination suit

An Ohio high school teacher who claims to have a phobia of young children is suing a school district for discrimination.

Maria C. Waltherr-Willard, 61, of Greenhills, is suing the Mariemont school district, where she worked for 35 years, saying it discriminated against her when it reassigned her in 2010 from its high school to its junior high and then pressured her to resign, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

According to the paper, the suit is a discrimination claim based on her age and disability -- a rare phobia called pedophobia, an extreme fear or anxiety around young children. Waltherr-Willard’s suit claims she has suffered from the condition since the 1990s.

Waltherr-Willard, who teaches Spanish and French, experiences stress, anxiety, chest pains, vomiting, nightmares and higher than healthy blood pressure when she’s around young children, according to documents filed by medical professionals, the Enquirer reported.

Last week, a federal judge dismissed three of the six claims in her lawsuit, claims which alleged the school district violated an implied contract to keep her from young students.

 In court documents, Mariemont officials say they did not expect Waltherr-Willard to resign when she did. They said she was replaced at the high school by teachers who also were in their 50s.

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