United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
D. NOCE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the court on the second motion of defendant
St. Louis Public Schools ("SLPS") for judgment on
the pleadings. (Doc. 35). Plaintiff June Lenk opposes the
motion. (Doc. 45). The Court heard oral arguments from the
parties on March 26, 2019.
Plaintiff alleges the following facts in her amended
complaint. Plaintiff is legally blind. (Doc. 32, ¶ 9).
She has a Masters of Education in Visual Impairment and a
Masters of Education in Learning Disabled. (Id. at
¶ 11). She has over ten years of experience teaching
"in various capacities throughout Missouri."
(Id.). She began working at defendant SLPS in August
2015 as an Itinerant Vision Teacher of SLPS students.
(Id. at 13). While based at Gateway Michael
Elementary School, she taught at nine elementary, middle, and
high schools, traveling throughout the school district to
teach students with vision impairments. (Id. at 14,
16). At Gateway Michael Elementary School, she had a locked
office to store teaching supplies, student files, and
magnification devices; SLPS provided her with a key to this
office. (Id. at ¶ 16). Plaintiff also used the
office to perform critical work functions like updating
student Individualized Educational Program
(“IEP”) information on the SLPS digital database.
(Id.). Plaintiff was required to submit weekly
timesheets and mileage sheets to SLPS staff for approval.
(Id. at ¶ 17). SLPS gave plaintiff an SLPS
email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Plaintiff used this email
account for all of her work-related business, including
emails to SLPS staff and Supplemental Health Care
("SHC") employees. (Id. at ¶ 18).
SLPS was aware of plaintiff's disability, and it assigned
Carrie McDaniel (SLPS's employee and Special Education
Administrator) to assist plaintiff with any matters related
to her disability. (Id. at ¶¶ 19-20).
Before the beginning of the relevant school year, plaintiff
notified Ms. McDaniel that she required assistive software on
her work computer to complete her duties, including a Speech
Package and magnification software that would enable her to
listen to or read documents and see images. (Id. at
¶ 21). Ms. McDaniel coordinated with SLPS IT staff.
Defendant's staff member traveled to Gateway Michael
school to review plaintiff's computer and software, and
to check their compatibility and functionality with the SLPS
networks and necessary database. (Id. at ¶ 22).
However, this "accommodation" effort "was not
satisfactory because plaintiff was not often able to
access" the required SLPS database in order to update
student IEPs, a critical function of her employment.
(Id. at ¶¶ 22-23).
alerted SLPS and Supplemental HealthCare (“SHC”)
about the technical difficulties, and despite multiple calls
by SLPS staff to SLPS IT in the fall and winter of 2015, SLPS
was unable to provide a solution. (Id. at
January 20, 2016, plaintiff received a call from SHC employee
Natalie Allenbeck informing plaintiff that SLPS had
complained about her, though Ms. Allenbeck did not provide
any details about the complaint. (Id. at
¶¶ 26, 29). Plaintiff was shocked, as she had
interacted positively with fellow SLPS and SHC staff, with
the only issue being her ability to access the SLPS database
and timely update IEP plans. (Id. at ¶ 27).
Plaintiff had made several complaints herself to SHC and SLPS
about her difficulties accessing the database. (Id.
at ¶ 28). Ms. Allenbeck of SHC told plaintiff to
“keep her head down” and avoid any other
problems. (Id. at ¶ 29).
February 2016, SHC provided plaintiff a new laptop. However,
problems remained with her accessing the database. Further
efforts in March 2016 by SLPS IT personnel and a third party
allowed her to better access the needed database.
(Id. at ¶ 30).
8, 2016, plaintiff was notified that SLPS would not renew her
contract for the 2016-2017 school year. (Id. at
¶ 31). Plaintiff was surprised, as she believed she was
very well received by all the principals and SLPS staff with
whom she had worked and she had been discussing plans with
them for the next school year. (Id. at ¶ 32).
Ms. McCormack told plaintiff she believed that, if there had
not been the computer problems plaintiff had in accessing the
SLPS database, plaintiff would have continued working at
SLPS. (Id. at ¶ 33). Plaintiff was notified
around August 2016 that her position was given to another
teacher who did not require any speech or magnification
software and who did not have the same qualifications and
experience as plaintiff. (Id. at ¶¶
amended complaint brings three claims against defendant SLPS:
Count 1 for unlawful discharge in violation of the Americans
with Disabilities Act 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et
seq. ("ADA"); Count 2 for failure to
accommodate in violation of the ADA; and Count 3 for
violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act 29 U.S.C.
§ 701, et seq. (Doc. 32 at 6-8).
SLPS's answer to amended complaint
answer to plaintiff's amended complaint, defendant SLPS
asserts the following. It generally denies plaintiff's
claims and specifically denies plaintiff was an employee of
SLPS. (Doc. 33 at ¶¶ 2, 5, Ex. A). During the
2015-2016 school year, plaintiff was an employee of SLPS
vendor Supplement Health Care Services, Inc.
("SHC") as a contracted Itinerant Vision Teacher
assigned to teach SLPS students at SLPS schools.
(Id. at ¶¶ 13-15). Plaintiff in this
lawsuit has previously admitted being an employee of SHC.
(Id. at ¶ 5). Ms. Carrie McDonald is a SLPS
administrative employee. (Id. at ¶ 20). During
the 2015-2016 school year, SHC purchased, provided, and
uploaded additional software on the computer that SHC
purchased for plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 21). At
SHC's request, SLPS assisted SHC regarding the
installation of software onto plaintiff's laptop computer
to ensure compatibility between the technology provided by
SHC and SLPS's network. (Id. at ¶ 22). SLPS
admits it assisted plaintiff in resolving issues she had with
SLPS's system. (Id. at ¶ 24).
to defendant's answer is the Consultant Service Agreement
between SLPS and ...