[nobe-l] UPDATE from Nicole! Re: need advice

Antonio Guimaraes freethaught at gmail.com
Wed Jul 16 15:20:33 UTC 2014

Hi Nicole,

I’ve worked successfully with a blind lawyer on issues related to testing accessibility at my former online university.

His name is Tim Elder, and he is a member of the NFB. I’m sure someone at the national center can get you in touch with him, or you may feel free to contact me privately,

antonio at accesstoplaces.com

and I can give you his contact information.


Antonio Guimaraes

On Jul 16, 2014, at 1:33 AM, NMPBRAT--- via nobe-l <nobe-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:

> Hi All, 
> So, I’ve been off the grid for a  little while now but I wanted to jump in 
> and give an update on my situation, for  those who are interested.     
> Just to refresh everyone’s memory, I  was the one who had posted looking 
> for advice regarding an employment  discrimination situation.  I’m the  
> special ed. teacher working in a public school system who had been denied  
> reasonable accommodations, even despite filing an internal complaint with the  
> district and coming to a written agreement.  To read my complete post, see below 
> this  message.   
> So, here’s the update!   The attorney I had been working  with again 
> contacted the district’s attorney and shared my concerns about the  last incident 
> in which they did not follow the agreement.  Needless to say, even their 
> attorney was  shocked and was going to speak to them about it.  I gave them to 
> the end of June to  respond but not to my surprise (I know how they act), 
> they didn’t.   So, on June 30th, I  filed a formal charge of discrimination 
> with EEOC.  It was not an easy decision…but I felt  like they left me no other 
> choice.   It was overwhelming and empowering all at the same time.   It is 
> my understanding through the  attorney I have been working with that they 
> were informed quickly about the  complaint and the finger pointing has begun…
> but they have made no attempt yet at  resolving anything.   My  current task 
> is now securing legal representation.  Although I have been using the union’
> s  attorney, she is unsure about taking the case moving forward because of 
> concerns  of a conflict of interest and also concerns that she may have 
> developed a bias  due to our close working relationship.  This is somewhat 
> disappointing but yet understandable.  However, it leaves me with the task of  
> finding an appropriate attorney moving forward….which I find to be somewhat  
> stressful, hoping that I am able to make the right choice.    
> I certainly appreciated everyone  sharing their thoughts, advice, 
> experiences, etc. the first time, so I will  throw this out to everyone again……I am 
> open to any and all suggestions,  thoughts, advice, etc. on any and all 
> parts of the EEOC process including  mediation as well as finding and securing 
> appropriate and successful legal  representation or any other legal resources 
> available in dealing with a  situation such as this.   I appreciate  
> everyone's thoughts and insights. 
> Thank  you all for your support! 
> Nicole  Poston
> In a message dated 5/23/2014 10:59:55 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
> nobe-l at nfbnet.org writes:
> Hi,  
> I am not one to put messages on the  list very often and when I do,  it is 
> typically responding to someone else’s  message.    
> I am looking for some advice from  others though…to get an idea of  what 
> others might do in my situation.  I apologize for the  length.      
> Just some quick background  information  first.  I am legally  blind.   I 
> am 
> finishing my   12th year of teaching in an inner city public school system 
> as a   special education teacher.  I have  taught in the same school  
> district 
> for my entire career.  They hired me knowing that I was  legally  blind and 
> might need a couple reasonable  accommodations.  For 10 years or so, the 
> district’s   administration was very helpful and very willing to provide 
> any  
> reasonable  accommodations to me I requested.   I certainly  wasn’t pushy 
> and only 
> asked for things that were  essential.   They were always more  than 
> willing 
> to comply with my requests and  never questioned anything.   Even during 
> those 10 years, I  had  several different principals, 2 different Special 
> Education  directors, and a  couple different Superintendents that I worked 
> under.  
> For the most part, with the  exception of one principal  that caused 
> problems for everyone, I had no issues  with any  administration and any 
> requests I 
> made.  The one issue I did have  with the  principal, the Superintendent at 
> the time quickly corrected  the issue.    
> In the last couple years, we have  acquired a  new Superintendent, a new 
> Special Education director, and new   principals.   The response I  have 
> received from the  current administration has been very different.   
> At the  beginning of December of last  year, I made a request for a  
> reasonable accommodation to my principals.   They ignored my  request.  I 
> again asked 
> a couple more times,  getting more  specific and more direct each time…
> .while still being professional   and respectful.  I was still  ignored.  
> Then at 
> the  beginning of  January, I contacted the Superintendent in an attempt to 
> resolve the issue,  which had worked the one other time I had had  issues 
> with 
> a  principal.  The Superintendent also ignored  my  attempt to contact him 
> and never responded.  After  discussing it with our union’s  attorney (who 
> also happens to  practice disability law), it was decided that I  would 
> file an  
> internal ADA complaint within the district.   I filed the  complaint and 
> chose to  have our union’s attorney act as my  representation.   The 
> district 
> contacted their  attorney  who then contacted my attorney.   After some 
> discussion and  despite  my anger, I agreed to mediate the issue without 
> the district  
> having to go  through the investigation process first.    Although I was 
> angry because I felt  that the district’s actions were  totally out of line 
> and 
> unnecessary, I was not  going into this with  an attitude of “I’m out to 
> get 
> them”.   I just wanted to  continue to be  treated in the same manner I had 
> been for 10 years  and be provided reasonable  accommodations when I 
> requested them,  nothing more.   We held a meeting where it was  myself, my 
> attorney, 
> the district’s attorney, and administration.   We came  to a written and 
> signed  agreement between the district and myself as  to the reasonable 
> accommodations  that I needed and the district was  willing to provide.   I 
> thought 
> with the signed  agreement  and my dismissal of the complaint, that we’d 
> all 
> be able to move on   and I’d get what I needed.  The  agreement was 
> supposed 
> to be  distributed to all administrators that I work with  or under so that 
> they were aware of the agreement and its contents.   About 2  weeks later, 
> I 
> was  speaking to one of the administrators and I  mentioned the agreement…
> .and 
> they  seemed to be unaware of the  agreement or its contents.  This 
> concerned 
> me.  I asked a couple  other administrators  and received the same 
> response. 
> So  I  called my attorney and told her my concerns.  I said “How can I  
> expect these people to  follow an agreement that they don’t even seem  to 
> be 
> aware of?  I mean, that doesn’t seem very fair to   them.”   She then 
> contacted 
> the  district’s attorney and we  ended up on a three-way conference call.   
> I 
> explained my  concerns.  She did have documentation that all the   
> administration had been informed of it but stated that she would make  
> contact  again 
> with the Superintendent’s office and tell them that  they needed to check  
> again with their administrators to ensure they  were well aware of the 
> agreement 
> and expectations.  Again, I  wasn’t  out to “get them”…I was simply just 
> trying to prevent another  issue.   This was like 2 months ago.   
> So, now comes  today.  I was at a district level professional  development  
> meeting in which I was to be provided a reasonable accommodation   that 
> would 
> allow me gain the information I needed and fully participate in  the  
> professional development.  Mind you,  this  professional development is 
> information 
> and training on our new state  level  teacher evaluation system….which in 
> turn, directly correlates  to my evaluation  and ultimately, my job.   So,  
> yes,  
> it is extremely important stuff.  The accommodation I was to be  provided 
> today was on the signed agreement  we made months ago.   The two  
> administrators who ran the professional development were  both people who 
> were  provided 
> the information….one of which was  ironically, the Special Education  
> director.   Despite  the  agreement, I was not provided the accommodation.  
> I had  to 
> go through the training  without it.   Needless to  say,  I am angry and 
> frustrated.   I  had 10 great  years with no issues.   I’ve tried very hard 
> to 
> work with the  current administration and have  tried to be understanding 
> and  
> forgiving.   I’ve given them chances to make  things right  and do the 
> right 
> thing.   They just don’t seem to care!!!   
> So, my question is……..what avenue  would you do next?   Would you try  and 
> mediate yet again, even though they are obviously  refusing to follow the  
> agreement that is already made?    Would you file a complaint outside the 
> district?   What  direction would you take from  here?   What suggestions 
> do  you  
> have? 
> Any thoughts are  appreciated! 
> Thanks  in  advance,  
> Nicole
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