80-Year-Old Teacher, Lillie Leon, Claims She Was Fired For Bathroom Breaks

Lillie Leon When 80-year-old kindergarten teacher Lillie Leon complained to the administration at P.S. 117, in the Briarwood section of the New York borough of Queens, about the distance that she had to travel to accompany her 25 students on bathroom breaks, she was fired for "insubordination."

Receiving notice a week ago, Leon responded this week with a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court alleging age discrimination. Her hope is to recover her job.

"I was expected to bathroom all of the children, boys and girls, at the same time, which is impossible. I really think it was an entrapment," Leon said in an interview with the New York Post.

In interviews, Leon expressed further frustration with the logic of placing an octogenarian teacher in a classroom that has no bathroom nearby. Instead, she was forced to escort all of her charges through the school's cafeteria when nature called for any of the 25.

"Teaching is my passion," she told the New York Daily News. "But I was put in a position where it was almost impossible for me to safeguard the safety of the children."

Leon, who has walked with the help of a cane since 2006, has for years requested to be transferred to first grade so as to be responsible for students more accustomed to taking care of their own bathroom business.

The Department of Education asserts that Leon shirked her duties when she simply stopped responding to bathroom break requests, according to CBS News.

In her lawsuit, Leon also discloses details of the psychological examination that she was forced to endure on the orders of the school's principal. She referred to the experience, put in place to see if she was up to the job, as "humiliating."

Leon has been a teacher since 1978, and before that worked in the banking business, according to a report in the New York Daily News. She is also a grandmother of four. Her current salary, the tabloid reports, is $100,049 a year. Thirty-four years into her teaching career, Leon said that her only hope was teach for one more before retiring.

Next: Why Charges of Age Discrimination Are On The Rise

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I pray she gets her job back and retire when she wishes too. This beautiful soul only wants to help the children. I believe if she had a loving husband and family that spent time with her that made her feel useful at home, she would not be eighty years old and working. When our elderly angles don't feel useful and loved, they leave us and go home. I wished I still had my grandmother.

August 08 2011 at 1:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There is more to this story than just this incident. FIring teachers takes a long, long, long time with lots of documentation, meetings, paperwork, hearings and such. Obviously this is only the smallest bit of information that AOL and others put up since it involves the elderly, teachers, unions and kids. The big news items now.

August 08 2011 at 10:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I agree with those that say to retire. She will have great benefits with a $100,000+ salary since teachers get 80% of their salary in retirement. Her SS will also kick in if it hasn't already, she is covered by both her Medicaid and her teacher retirement and someone else needs a job.

She may be a great teacher, so go volunteer somewhere, be a tutor, be a grandmother to kids without grandparents much less kids without parents, work with animals..............just retire and save the headaches of a lawsuit, the cost of a lawsuit and the time.

I have a problem with teachers who have been around forever like this. They get in ruts and teach the same ol' same ol...........and this is only what, kindergarten? Get someone with some energy.

The only good thing is that Ms. Leon does not say LIKE at all..........what a great thing for our children to hear. You can speak as a normal person without sounding like a valley girl. I even hear foreigners on NPR, who are interviewed for stories, saying like as if it is part of the interpretation of American English. Hmph.

August 08 2011 at 10:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to katlady20's comment

NYC retirees only get 50% of the average last 3 years not 80%.

August 08 2011 at 10:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I feel your pain. Age discrimination should not be tolerated. It happen to me.

August 08 2011 at 9:26 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I think what the school did was a disgrace.I'm sure they know how difficult it is to get GOOD teachers,yet they wanted to get rid of her,so they made things as difficult for her as they could, hoping she'd leave.When she didn't, they fired her.Shame on them,and I hope THEY get what's coming to them for their callous treatment of Ms Leon.

August 08 2011 at 8:48 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I congratulate Ms. Leon for her dedication to our profession and your devoted service to our children. God bless you and may justice be serviced. It appears now, that these younger managment types are trying screw the our senior work class, so that they can hire younger people, with less education and experience for half the pay. In the state of Florida, which managment get a great deal of income based on supervision of more people. God bless Ms Leon.

August 08 2011 at 7:29 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

First, thank God for people like Ms. Leon. It takes a lot of patience, understanding, and sacrifice to even work in our schools of today. My grandmother who is 78 y/o is a retired teacher of 40 1/2 years and still goes in at least once or twice a year to work or volunteer in the school system. It is her passion just as Ms. Leon's. We do not hinder her of assisting with the needs of providing a quality education and support system to our community. May God bless Ms. Leon continuously. When she wins her lawsuit, gets her job back, then maybe others will see the difference made. If not, that's okay too, because you never miss a good thing until it's gone. It is not fair to the children either as they have to endure the constant interuptions of spending what should be learning time, to potty time to the bathroom.
You will win! You already have in my eyes!

August 08 2011 at 6:06 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

retire, give a young student from college a chance,she made a paycheck for 34 years! looks like more tax money for a law suit!

August 08 2011 at 6:05 AM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply

I agree with the posters who are encouraging Ms. Leon; however, we must bear in mind that these are exactly the kinds of cases that are deemed "frivolous." I encourage everyone to realize lawsuits which successfully award punitive (i.e: punishment monies) damages to plaintiffs are never frivolous.

August 08 2011 at 5:47 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

I think that is utterly ridiculous. I taught for forty-three years (in high school however). Nonetheless, all Public School Districts in which I taught had restrooms in Contained Kindergarten Departments or at least on the same end of the hallway as the Kindergarten Classrooms. Every child, especially pre-schoolers, does not have to use the restroom at the same time. That poor lady could possibly have been subjected to escorting pupils to the restroom more times per day than she had time for instruction. Our children are in need of more time with qualified teachers to help build their minds and skills. This is a good situation where Teacher's Aides would be helpful.
I congratulate Ms. Leon for her dedication to our profession and your devoted service to our children. God bless you and may justice be serviced.

August 08 2011 at 2:49 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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