Until January 2013, Marc Schaeffer was a substitute teacher with the Broward School District. Now, in a federal lawsuit filed at the end of August, the former educator alleges he lost his job because school administrators don't appreciate the difference between taking an insulin shot before blacking out and mainlining drugs for jollies.
Schaeffer has type 1 diabetes, a condition that requires five to seven insulin shots a day, including right after meals. Without the shots, the lawsuit says, Schaeffer loses consciousness. When he was hired as a substitute teacher for Broward schools in 2008, the district allegedly knew all about the condition. He filled the appropriate information about his disability into his employment application.
Over the years, the diabetes hasn't slowed Schaeffer down. Most recently, he's worked at New River Middle School. Due to his condition, he'd worked out an arrangement with the school. Whenever the teacher needed to take his insulin, he'd buzz the administration, and another staff member would be sent along to sit with the class while Schaeffer left to inject in private. The arrangement worked for three years.
Then, on January 13, 2013, Schaeffer was working at New River when it was time for an injection. He called the administration for relief, but no one came. He called again. Still, nobody. He was close to unconscious. "He was left in this impossible situation," explains his attorney, Jamie Alan Sasson, of the Tickin Law Group. "There was nothing he could do. If he walked out and left the kids unsupervised, he would have gotten in trouble for that."
Instead, Schaeffer turned his back to the class and as discreetly as possible administered the insulin in the room.
The next day, the teacher went online to look up his next assignment. All his future gigs with the school were suddenly canceled. When he called the school, the vice principal told him he was terminated for "shooting up drugs in the classroom."
Now Schaeffer is going after the district for discrimination. "This was a lifelong medical issue, and he had been open with the school about it," Sasson explains. "They tried to make him out to be a drug user."
A call to the Broward County Public School's spokesperson was not returned.