A teacher who was tripped by a child and knocked unconscious in her classroom is suing the Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools for discrimination after she was discharged following an extended work leave.
Former McKinley Elementary School teacher Susan Miles also alleges that she suffered retaliation from the district and the school’s principal, Valerie Castillo, for taking work leave, and that she was not given a due process hearing when she was discharged in January 2017.
Miles, who started teaching in the Kansas City, Kan., district in 2007, has also filed a disability discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court.
The district did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
According to the lawsuit:
In April 2016, a student tripped Miles in her classroom. Miles fell and was knocked unconscious. Another teacher found her on her classroom floor.
The lawsuit alleges that no one at the school called an ambulance. Instead, Miles drove herself to an urgent care facility.
Miles, of Overland Park, had multiple injuries related to her fall, including a concussion, occipital nerve damage, a back sprain, neck sprain and a foot fracture.
She filed a claim with the Kansas Division of Worker’s Compensation and was later diagnosed with occipital neuralgia and post-concussive syndrome. She experienced vision problems, severe headaches, confusion and dizziness.
Though Miles stated that she was still able to perform teaching duties, she filed for work leave a month later because of neck and head pain.
Her request was approved, but Castillo required Miles to complete lesson plans for the following school year before taking her leave.
Miles was also later directed to return to school to clean out her classroom.
Castillo told Miles “we need you to get back to your classes” and “you need to get your lesson plans done,” according to the lawsuit.
Though Miles intended to return to teach in the 2016-17 school year and renewed her teaching contract, continued headaches and confusion prompted her to take leave from August to November 2016.
She also took an approved unpaid leave of absence from November through January.
Miles said that during this time she phoned the district multiple times to discuss returning to work in January. Her inquiry was not addressed, the lawsuit states.
When she went to deliver a physician’s work release form to the school district in December 2016, Castillo and Miles had at least two interactions.
“(Miles) asked Castillo what (Miles) had missed while she was away from work. Castillo responded, in a disparaging manner, ‘half a year of school,’ ” the lawsuit states.
It also states that Castillo later told Miles, “you need to get out of here so our people can work.”
In January, when Miles expected to return to work, she learned she had lost her position. She says she was not offered a due process hearing.
Though she continued to receive medical treatment through the district’s workers compensation health care provider, Miles was later notified that her health coverage had ended.
She maintains that she was not offered the opportunity to continue health coverage through COBRA.