Failure to maintain certification due to depression not covered by ADA. According to a U.S. Appeals Court, a teacher who failed to maintain her teaching certificate due to her depression was not a “qualified individual with a disability” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (prior to its amendment).  In this case, the teacher, who had a history of depression, was required to maintain a state teaching certificate according to her teaching contract. 

Pursuant to this requirement, she was obligated to participate in professional development and courses.  While the teacher completed some of the requisite courses, she fell several hours short of the mandatory hours due to suffering a severe depressive episode, which left her unable to finish the certification requirements prior to the start of the new school year.  The teacher asked the school district to allow her to continue teaching under a “provisional authorization,” which the district was empowered to grant if no certified teachers were available for employment.  The school denied her request, however, and terminated the teacher’s employment.

The teacher proceeded to file suit under the American’s With Disabilities Act, claiming that the school should have accommodated her by allowing her to continue teaching under a provisional authorization while she worked to complete her certification.  The school countered that the teacher was not a qualified individual with a disability under the ADA.  The Court agreed with the school, noting that both the ADA and the EEOC guidelines provide that disabled individuals must establish they can satisfy the job prerequisites in order to be covered by the ADA’s protections.  The teacher’s failure to maintain her certification rendered her unqualified, and therefore the school was not required to offer her a reasonable accommodation.