Johnson v. Board of Trustees of the Boundary County School District 101

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Disability Law
  • Date Filed: 12-08-2011
  • Case #: 10-35233
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge O’Scannlain for the Court; District Judge Kendall; and Circuit Judge Paez, partial concurrence and partial dissent.
  • Full Text Opinion

Where an expired teaching certificate fails to satisfy a job prerequisite the holder is not a “qualified individual with a disability” for the purposes of reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101.

Trish Johnson ("Johnson") failed to complete the professional development training credits necessary to renew her teaching certificate and attributed the lapse to a major depressive episode she suffered a few months before her credentials expired. The District Board of Trustees (“Board”) denied Johnson’s petition for provisional authorization, citing Johnson’s lack of action during the five years between renewals and because there were two qualified teachers available to replace her. Two years later Johnson filed and lost, multiple claims against Board including violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, which she appealed. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that Johnson was not a “qualified individual with a disability” under the ADA. Such an individual must meet relevant prerequisites such as experience, skills, and licenses, and be able to perform the essential functions of the desired position with or without reasonable accommodation. The Ninth Circuit found that without a valid teaching certificate Johnson did not independently satisfy the job requirements and thus was not “otherwise qualified” as would obligate Board to make reasonable accommodation. Nor had Johnson challenged the particular requirement as discriminatory on its face. The Court emphasized that employers are not obligated to provide training or to assist individuals in becoming qualified for a position. AFFIRMED.

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