Blind teacher lost his job over Listerine and 'blind date' joke
Published 17/11/2015 | 12:50
Harlem teacher Steven Sloan was accused by the city Department of Education for 'sexually harassing' a group of mothers by making a joke.
Sloan(60) was accused of sexual harassment for joking "anybody want a blind date?" to the group of visiting parents last October.
The NY Post reported that the gym teacher was also accused of "drinking on the job" at PS 102 after one of the visiting parents claimed to smell alcohol on his breath.
At a hearing, Sloan told the DOE "I cherish my job".
The blind teacher said he made the joke "to put people at ease" about his disability, and explained that the alcohol smell was as a result of his regular use of Original Listerine, which contains 26.9% alcohol. Colleagues confirmed to the hearing that Sloan was 'meticulous' around personal hygeine.
Former colleague Lisa Ortiz told the New York Post that the "DOE took an outstanding career and trashed it".
Former principal Sandra Gittens told the paper that during her fourteen years working with Sloan he was "amazing".
"The students respected him", she said, adding that Sloan arrived early and volunteered to chaperone class trips, ran after-school activities and volunteered for 'lunch duty'.
Sloan said during the hearing: "Ain’t nothing for me to do but to teach physical education and work with my children. So why, after 30 years, would I risk or jeopardize that?"
Sloan agreed to retire in a settlement and he can never work for the Department of Education again. Following the agreement, the DOE dropped plans for a formal hearing on the charges. Gothamist report that they 'insist' Sloan did consume alcohol on school property and make inappropriate statements to a parent.
"I’d rather retire than have a bad record" he told the New York Post, but is described as 'devastated' since the ruling.
"They didn’t even let me go back to my school and say goodbye... I just want to let everybody know I did my job diligently, with all my heart and soul".
Coach Sloan was born with muscle degeneration and taught gym class for three decades with the help of an assistant.
He had previously carried the Olympic Torch for the school in Italy in 2006.