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Ex-Teacher Sues Over Classroom Color

Friday, March 1, 2013

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A legal dust-up over yellow classroom walls has a former teacher demanding green and school district officials seeing red in Texas.

A former high school math teacher in Pflugerville, TX, who was fired in 2011 after making threatening statements about his boss says that if yellow paint had covered his classroom’s walls, he would not have had stress-induced panic attacks that led to his firing, according to various news reports.

yellow paint
Leo Reynolds /  Flickr

A federal lawsuit alleges that a school's denial to paint a teacher's room yellow and make other accommodations led to heightened stress levels that caused him to be fired.

The teacher, Lieu Tran, filed a federal lawsuit Feb. 19, claiming that the Pflugerville Independent School District had a responsibility to paint his classroom yellow, provide him with a computer printer, and make other accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a report on statesman.com.

Tran, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and anxiety, said school officials had met his requests with opposition and hostility, eventually leading to his firing and hospitalization, according to reports that cite the lawsuit.

New Room

Tran was allowed to teach in a yellow painted room for his first four years of employment with Connelly High School and received positive performance evaluations, a report on courthousenews.com related.

But, when the school decided to move him into a new classroom sans yellow paint, issues arose.

Reports indicate that he had asked that the walls of his new classroom be painted yellow because the color elicited a “calming” feeling for him and was not just for “mere aesthetic purpose.”

The reports do not indicate the specific shade of yellow Tran requested.

His doctor and psychiatrist each wrote letters to the school confirming Tran’s requests for accommodations, the Austin American-Statesman reported. But, the school allegedly did not meet his requests, reports said.

Stress and Stuttering

Tran then began exhibiting heightened levels of stress that eventually led to panic attacks and stuttering and resulted in a negative performance review, the reports said.

Following the evaluation, in March 2011, he was reportedly told that his contract with the school would not be renewed.

After he found out he was to lose his job, Tran told an Austin police officer that he had thoughts of killing his supervisors at the school, reports related. Tran then faced felony charges, but they were dropped after a judge ruled the statements inadmissible because he was “suffering from a severe mental breakdown” at the time they were made, the Austin American-Statesman report noted.  


Tagged categories: Color; Color selection; Design; Lawsuits; Schools

Comment from Catherine Brooks, (3/4/2013, 9:33 AM)

Painting a classroom as an accommodation for a disabled person is surely cheaper than remodeling furniture, doorways, and ramps for a wheelchair- bound teacher. What was the big excuse for the school not to comply with the legitimate, medical requests? to

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (3/4/2013, 2:15 PM)

Poor guy.

Comment from Stephen Gambone, (3/8/2013, 5:56 AM)

Yellow tinted glasses could have been a possible compromise coupled with cases of mello yello soda

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