A New York teacher may have lost his job because a parent mistook the mouthwash on his breath for an alcoholic beverage.
According to the New York Post, 60-year-old Steven Sloan is completely blind but taught physical education at PS 102 in Harlem for 29 years, using an assistant to ascertain his students did as they were told.
Former principal of the school Sandra Gittens said Sloan regularly volunteered to chaperone class trips and was in charge of after school programs.
Gittens told the Post,
The students respected him. He cleared his throat -- ahem -- and everyone got into line. It was really amazing.
But while setting up for a party on October 30, 2014, a female parent believed she smelled alcohol on Sloan's breath.
The parent then went through Sloan's waste basket and reportedly found a styrofoam cup containing an unspecified brown liquid that allegedly smelled like booze.
She claimed the cup belonged to Sloan's assistant and accused Sloan of drinking from it even though she never actually saw him using the cup.
At a hearing, Sloan said what the parent had smelled on his breath was probably Listerine, which numerous coworkers recalled him using all the time.
Original Listerine is 26.9 percent alcohol, and Sloan said he used it that day because his lunch was especially spicy.
At the hearing, he said,
I cherish my job. Ain't nothing for me to do but to teach physical education and work with my children. So why, after 30 years, would I risk or jeopardize that?
Sloan was not only charged with drinking on the job but also sexual harassment due to a harmless joke he made to a group of mothers the day of the party.
He reportedly asked the women,
Anybody want to go on a blind date?
In August, Sloan came to an agreement with the Department of Education to retire instead of having his record tarnished.
His former colleagues are furious at the DOE's decision to bring charges against him and ruin the end of his career.
Sloan told the Post,
[The DOE] 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.
A cherished role model for the disabled, Sloan famously received a nomination from actor Tony Danza to carry a torch at the 2006 Olympics.