Society

Blind Teacher Says He Was Using Listerine Mouthwash After Parent Accuses Him Of Drinking

| by Sean Kelly
nyc teacher steven sloannyc teacher steven sloan

A legendary New York City gym teacher was reportedly fired after rinsing his mouth with Listerine.

Blind gym teacher Steven Sloan, 60, was terminated from his position at PS 102 in Harlem after a parent who was setting up for a party last year claimed to smell alcohol on his breath, the New York Post reports.

The Department of Education (DOE) subsequently charged him with drinking on the job and sexual harassment. The second charge stems from when Sloan allegedly asked a group of moms, "Anybody want to go on a blind date?" He later said that he made these types of jokes to put people at ease regarding his disability.

Sloan, who was born with macular degeneration, became a hero to those at his school when actor Tony Danza nominated him to carry a torch in Italy at the 2006 Olympic Games.

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His colleagues were outraged by his firing.

“The DOE took an outstanding career and trashed it,” teacher Lisa Ortiz told the Post.

After reportedly smelling alcohol on Sloan’s breath on Oct. 30, 2014, the parent who accused him dug through a trash bin in his office and found a Styrofoam cup that was allegedly filled with “brown liquid.” 

“I cherish my job,” Sloan said at a hearing, adamantly denying drinking on the job.

“Ain’t nothing for me to do but to teach physical education and work with my children," he added. "So why, after 30 years, would I risk or jeopardize that?”

Sloan maintained that after a spicy lunch, he rinsed with Original Listerine — which has 26.9 percent alcohol.

(Steve Sloan holding bottle of Listerine mouthwash. Photo Credit: Helyane Seidman/New York Post)

In August, Sloan settled with the DOE and agreed to retire from his position.

“I’d rather retire than have a bad record,” he told the Post. “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.”

Many Reddit users also came to Sloan's defense, especially regarding the sexual harassment charge.

"I've noticed a lot of people with disabilities use humor when awkward situations relating to their disability come up," one person commented.

"What a world where asking someone on a date is sexual harassment," another Reddit user wrote.

Sources: New York Post, Reddit / Photo credit: Helayne Seidman/New York Post, Satish Krishnamurthy/Flickr