Back in January, an assistant principal at Comanche Springs Elementary School, in Saginaw, had a medical emergency: during a district training session, Kourtney Glaser started experiencing a series of uterine bleeding incidents. The 31-year-old educator was taken to the emergency room, where doctors discovered that her IUD had lodged in her uterine wall. The birth control device was quickly removed.
That’s surely a deeply unpleasant experience, but medical emergencies are part of life. What happened next is even worse. According to WFAA in Dallas, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD put Glaser on administrative leave shortly after the incident, claiming that her bleeding wasn’t really caused by her IUD.
“They didn’t believe me,” she said. “They thought I had an anxiety attack.”
Glaser and her attorney said they provided documentation proving the episode was clearly due to the IUD, but the young mother was placed on leave.
A letter sent to Glaser by the district cites “severe anxiety” as the reason behind a series of female bleeding incidents. It also states that Glaser “…cannot speak in public to groups,” and says she must visit two doctors and sign a waiver for a possible release of her medical records.
“I have some anxiety, yes; I get nervous, yes,” she said. “But it isn’t impacting my job. I’ve led trainings for the district, I’ve led parent groups, spoken at PTA meetings.”
Parents quickly rallied around Glaser. An online petition demanding that the district investigate the circumstances of her being put on administrative leave and bringing up concerns about the school’s principal has received almost 2,500 signatures as of today. The Internet quickly followed suit, as feminist blog Jezebel took up the issue, reminding readers that the school district’s letter to Glaser citing anxiety as the source of her bleeding “was sent despite documentation provided by Glaser’s lawyer clearly demonstrating that the incident was IUD-related.” Jezebel mocked the school’s reaction as “get that hysterical bleeding woman away from the children!”
To be certain, abnormal uterine bleeding caused by anxiety is a rare condition, and the odds that someone’s employer would better be able to determine the cause of a medical emergency than, uh, the friggin’ doctors that treated it are so small as to be astronomical. But even if Glaser—or another educator, in Saginaw or elsewhere—did experience a noticeable physical reaction to anxiety, why would that justify putting her on administrative leave?
That Glaser has to discuss the details of her IUD-related, uterine bleeding story in the press is deeply unfortunate; that she also has to explain that she, like every other human on the planet, occasionally experiences anxiety, may be far more abhorrent. The notion that a person with anxiety is unsafe to put forward to speak to groups or in public and must provide detailed medical records to her employer demonstrating that she’s fit to do her job is a deeply regressive one.
Meanwhile, over in Saginaw, parents from Comanche Springs Elementary took over the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw School Board meeting on Monday night. PTA Member Jennifer Jordan told WFAA that “the climate at Comanche Hills Elementary is toxic due to poor leadership,” explaining that what happened to Glaser is symptomatic of bigger problems at the school.
While the ISD isn’t commenting on the specifics of Glaser’s situation (understandably, given the obvious potential problems regarding making a statement about an employee’s medical information), it doesn’t seem to disagree with Jordan’s assessment of the situation at the school: Principal Katy Maurer was reassigned on Monday, and while Glaser is still on leave, the school district acknowledged the concerns of both parents and those who are outraged on the Internet, pledging to resolve the issue. At the moment, that resolution is still pending but it appears, at the least, that the petitioners are being heard.