Gary Winters, the school district's attorney, said Tuesday that Waltherr-Willard was transferred because the French program at the high school was being turned into an online one and that the middle school needed a Spanish teacher.
"She wants money," Mr. Winters said of Walter-Willard's motivation to sue. "Let's keep in mind that our goal here is to provide the bestteachers for students and the best academic experience for students, which certainly wasn't accomplished by her walking out on them in the middle of the year."
Waltherr-Willard and her attorney, Brad Weber, did not return calls for comment Tuesday.
Winters also denied Walter-Willard's claim that the district transferred her out of retaliation for her unauthorized comments to parents about the French program ending — "the beginning of a deliberate, systematic and calculated effort to squeeze her out of a job altogether," Weber wrote in a July 2011 letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The lawsuit said that Waltherr-Willard has been treated for her phobia since 1991 and also suffers from general anxiety disorder, high blood pressure and a gastrointestinal illness. She was managing her conditions well until the transfer, according to the lawsuit.
Working with the younger students adversely affected Waltherr-Willard's health, the lawsuit said.
She was "unable to control her blood pressure, which was so high at times that it posed a stroke risk," according to the lawsuit, which includes a statement from her doctor about her high blood pressure. "The mental anguish suffered by (Waltherr-Willard) is serious and of a nature that no reasonable person could be expected to endure the same."
The lawsuit was filed in June and is set to go to trial in February 2014. A judge last week dismissed three of the ex-teacher's claims, but left discrimination claims standing.