HOPEDALE (CBS) – A teacher at Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School suffering from ALS has come up short in a bid to collect full retirement benefits.

Phillip LeMarbre, a biology teacher at the school, was diagnosed last fall with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, so he had to take sick leave.

Then it ran out, 103 days shy of the 10-year mark that would give him full retirement and medical benefits.

LeMarbre petitioned for more sick time but in a tied vote, 2 teachers in his favor, 2 school committee members against him, his petition was denied.

Then, the school asked LeMarbre to have an occupational therapist certify all of his responsibilities at school. His wife, Jessica, says the therapist was unwilling to sign the packet because she is certified to evaluate people, not programs. After that, he was terminated for, “failure to comply with requests from the school.”

Jessica says they do have some retirement savings but not enough of what is needed to cope with the degenerative disease.

“Which is fine, except it’s only really worth three years of benefits. So we would get a big chunk of money, but it’s not like getting a retirement fund for the rest of your life,” she told WBZ.

They have been advised that the school is acting within the law.

“I just was shocked that they couldn’t see some compassion or call him and talk to him but there was none of that,” Jessica said.

A representative from the Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional School District responded to WBZ-TV, saying:

“Mr. LeMarbre has been a valued member of the Valley Tech staff for almost 10 years. The District has afforded Mr. LeMarbre with every benefit of the law and District policy. The issue that has been discussed publicly by his family touches on a confidential personnel matter, and as such, we will not be commenting on the issue.”

Superintendent Michael Fitzpatrick told the Worcester Telegram and Gazette it’s “unfortunate that they would communicate that to you in that fashion. It’s a delicate medical issue, and it’s certainly not appropriate for me to air that publicly.”

If you would like to help, a GoFundMe page has been set up for the LeMarbre family.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports

Comments (6)
  1. common sense has left the building! so sad!

  2. Joni Knapp says:

    I say RESIST! Time to fight back. Maybe time for a new challenge. Whoever is in charge of this

  3. This needs to be challenged. How horrible…a. Man who decided to leave business to devote his life to teaching…and this is how he is repaid! Horrible and heartless!

  4. The school was wrong to request that an OT certify job responsibilities. That would be under the realm of their human resources department. That request was outside the occupational therapists scope of practice. This report appears to blame the OT, which is wrong.

  5. WOW, this is horrible, I had a debilitating accident (TBI)in Nov.2009, and did not return to work until September 2011 part time. After a year of struggling with my administrative job..in the fall of 2012 I was put on paid administrative leave until January 2013 when I qualified for an early retirement. Bridgewater Raynham also had a sick leave bank that I used.
    Prayers that this school system does the right thing for this man.

  6. Kate Barry says:

    “Please sign, share, and like. We had updated the petition in light of some changes that have happened over the past week. The meeting to terminate my father has been canceled by BVT due to making this situation public. If you have already signed the original petition please sign this one too. We can not thank everyone enough for their support and kind words.” – PhilsArmy

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