Times Herald Record
December 13, 2007

Liberty fires middle school librarian

By Michael Lumsden

LIBERTY By a vote of 6-1, with 2 abstentions, the Liberty school board Tuesday accepted a state mediator's recommendation and fired longtime librarian Angela Page. Now the 51-year-old is considering bringing a federal suit against the district for discriminating against her because of a disability.

"I'm just amazed that it's all right that someone can make you ill and then fire you for the illness they caused," Page said yesterday. She has been a district employee for 23 years.

Because of the multiple chemical sensitivity she developed from mold while working in the middle school library since 1991, Page has not been able to work in the school since June 2004. Dennis Campagna, a mediator with the state Education Department, decided last month that the school district does not have to continue employing Page, since she cannot perform her "duties in an efficient and effective manner."

Tim Hamblin, president of the Liberty Faculty Association, the teacher's union, said that once the district started the state-level process to eliminate Page's tenure last year, there was little his local could do. Hamblin said he is working to make sure the buildings are safe in the future.

"I think they've taken steps to rectify the water infiltration we had in that building," Hamblin said of the middle school. "But there still are problems."

Page breathes through a filtered respirator if she is near anyone wearing any sort of fragrance including scents from dryer sheets. Since spring 2004, when she fainted in the library, Page has suggested alternative positions and responsibilities that she could carry out in a different space within the school or from her home, in order to maintain employment with the school district.

Campagna's report said creating a new full-time position for Page or allowing her to telecommute "would place an undue hardship on the district."

Though Page won a workers' compensation claim, the decision was appealed in June 2006, at which point her regular pay and benefits were suspended. Page then lived on accumulated sick days through March 2007. She said she has seen none of her $81,701 salary since then.

Schools Superintendent Michael Vanyo did not return a call for comment yesterday.