Blind Teacher Out of Job for 'Using Listerine'

Steven Sloan is described as devastated
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2015 3:00 PM CST

A well-known blind gym teacher has lost his job over what he says was Listerine and an innocent joke—but others aren't seeing it the same way, the New York Post reports. Steven Sloan, who taught at PS 102 in New York City, was accused by the city Department of Education of drinking on the job and sexually harassing a group of visiting moms by joking, "Anybody want to go on a blind date?" But Sloan, 60, says the alcohol smell came from Listerine and the joke was his way of creating comfort around his disability. His 29-year career unraveled on Oct. 20, 2014, when a visiting parent at the Harlem school said she smelled booze on his breathe and dug up a cup in his office trash that contained a brown liquid that smelled like alcohol.

But Sloan denied the charges: "I cherish my job," he said at a hearing. "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?" He says the smell must have come from using Original Listerine, which has 26.9% alcohol (colleagues agree that he was meticulous about personal hygiene). Facing a formal DOE hearing, Sloan agreed to retire in August and can never work for the department again, Gothamist reports. Known as a jovial teacher who walked the halls without a cane, Sloan is described as devastated. "They didn’t even let me go back to my school and say goodbye," he says. Sloan brought recognition to PS 102 when he carried a torch at the 2006 Olympics in Italy. (More blindness stories.)

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