Patricia: Changing a Discriminatory Policy

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Tags: Client Stories

Patricia Bordonaro was a teaching assistant who worked with students with disabilities and was an active organizer of the Circle of Friends Club at Clayton High School. She also had vision loss, which meant she couldn’t drive a school bus.

Johnston County Schools had a policy that required all teaching assistants, custodians, and food service workers to be licensed to drive a school bus. Because Patricia couldn’t get such a license, Johnston County fired her. Disability Rights NC filed a lawsuit against the Johnston County Board of Education on behalf of Patricia and all people with disabilities who want to work in the school system but can’t because of this policy.

The Board entered into a settlement agreement with Patricia, paying her the equivalent of two years’ salary. The Board also changed the policy. Now, the district superintendent will examine the number of bus drivers needed by the school system in relation to the number of routes required. Then the superintendent will provide exemptions to the policy, as long as there are a sufficient number of drivers to transport students. In addition, the Board agreed to update its website and materials to make it clear that exemptions to the policy are available.