A blind gym teacher was sacked after a parent complained she could smell booze on his breath, but he claims it was because of the alcohol-based mouthwash he was using.
As reported by the New York Post, Steven Sloan, 60, was a highly popular coach and hailed by many as a role model for overcoming his disability. He was born with macular degeneration and the reach of his inspiration was such that he was even nominated by actor Tony Danza to carry a torch at the 2006 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Turin, Italy.
His fellow teachers say he was respected by colleagues and students alike, teaching exercise and sports with an assistant who served as his “eyes” to make sure the kids did as they were told, as well as running after school classes and chaperoning class trips.
Given how beloved he is then, it’s no surprise that his colleagues are absolutely outraged by his dismissal, with several pointing to his history of obsession with cleanliness and hygiene, noting he would regularly rinse with Listerine.
Sloan’s 29-year career at PS 102 in Brooklyn, New York came to a crashing halt on October 20, 2014 when he was accused of drinking on the job.
After the parent smelled the alcohol on his breath, she checked a bin in Sloan’s office and found a styrofoam cup and said the brown liquid inside smelled of liquor. She never saw Sloan holding it but accused him of drinking.
Sloan adamantly denied ever drinking on duty and continues to attest any odour on his breath likely came from rinsing his mouth with the Listerine, which contains 26.9 per cent alcohol, after he’d eaten a spicy lunch.
At a hearing, he testified:
I cherish my job. Ain’t nothing for me to do but to teach physical education and work with my children. So why, after 30 years, would I risk or jeopardize that?
The city Department of Education charged Sloan with drinking on the job, and he was even slapped with a sexual harassment charge because he asked a group of the mothers on the day, “Anybody want to go on a blind date?” in a bid to put them at ease about his disability.
In the end, Sloan settled with the DoE and agreed to retire but, understandably, he’s devastated his career ended on such a bad note.
Speaking to the New York Post, he added:
I’d rather retire than have a bad record. They didn’t even let me go back to my school and say goodbye. I just want to let everybody know I did my job diligently, with all my heart and soul.