The 57-year-old mom-of-two wrote to her school district asking for permission to work from home but they responded two months later, only to refuse.
It is never easy to say goodbye to a beloved parent knowing that she passed away because of someone else's mistake that could have been avoided easily. One family in New York's New Rochelle was heartbroken when their beloved matriarch passed away due to a circumstance that could have been easily avoided.
Karen Johnson, 57, a special education teacher at the Albert Leonard Middle School in New Rochelle, passed away on February 11 after battling COVID-19. Her husband Robert Johnson Sr. and the couple's son Robert Jr. are leaning on each other but they are struggling. "She loved the kids that she worked with, every one of them," said her husband to ABC 7 NY. "There's nothing she wouldn't do for them. This district knows that," he added.
Karen Johnson, 57, died Feb. 11 after a battle with COVID-19. She worked as a special education teacher for more than two decades at Albert Leonard Middle School in New Rochelle, New York.— WOWT 6 News (@WOWT6News) February 18, 2021
He is deeply unhappy with how the district didn't take her health concerns seriously. She had asthma and struggled with her weight. She also wanted the city school district to allow her to work from home so she could stay safe. She sent a letter to them, which included a note from her doctor saying, in part, "Every reasonable accommodation should be made to allow this patient to work from home."
Unfortunately, the acting superintendent took two whole months to respond to the request, only to disappoint Karen. "The district is denying your request for an accommodation to work remotely. The district would be unable to ensure equity of instruction for all students across all classes, grade levels and buildings," they said, as per FOX19.
KAREN JOHNSON, 58, a special education teacher at ALBERT LEONARD MIDDLE of NEW ROCHELLE, NY, died Feb. 11. Was "hypervigilant" of COVID protocols. Principal JOHN BARNES, "She was maternal, hard-working, dedicated, resilient, talented, and compassionate."https://t.co/yz3b6hnmZo— Remembering Educators Lost to COVID (@CovidTeachers) February 14, 2021
"We lost a great woman. I love my wife very much. She was very caring," said her husband. Her son added, "We’ve lost something that can’t be replaced, and it’s something that we believe could have been wholly prevented had the school district taken our grievances seriously."
While the family can't prove that she got infected while working at the middle school, they said that they were very careful and practiced the safety protocols wherever they went.
New Rochelle teacher, Karen Johnson, dies from coronavirus, family says remote work request was denied | https://t.co/HoCsuTxUNU https://t.co/8uV5Z1Z8HV— Thurgood Was A Helluva Lawyer (@civilizedrights) February 17, 2021
"We believe that her working remotely and staying home would have prolonged her life. Them forcing her back to work, that was a risky situation," Robert Johnson Jr. said. "This was the one time we asked for anything from the school district or from anyone in the city, and I feel like they turned their back on us and I lost my mother because of it," he told ABC 7 NY.
The district expressed their condolences in a statement. "Ms. Johnson was a devoted educator who provided reading support and special-education instruction to middle-school students," they said, according to ABC 7 NY. "Ms. Johnson will be dearly missed. The district extends its deepest condolences to the Johnson family as well as to the staff and students of Albert Leonard Middle School. Treasured memories of Karen Johnson will sustain her students, colleagues and friends, and she will remain in our thoughts and prayers."
Karen Johnson and her two children. Last summer she asked administrators to let her work from home. The district denied her request. On Thursday the 57-year-old New Rochelle special ed teacher died of Covid-19. EWN at 6. pic.twitter.com/mKJ3MJXOpS— Joe Torres (@joetorresABC7) February 15, 2021
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by Morsa Images (Representational Image)