Aaron Philip
YouTube screenshot

When New York City occupational therapist Debra Fisher discovered that one of her special needs students, 13-year-old Aaron Philip, had a talent for video animation, Fisher coordinated a fundraiser to help Aaron create a multimedia project that would help other special needs kids.

Fisher sent emails to other staffers at Public School 333 in Manhattan to raise money, but that outreach got her suspended from her job for six weeks, the New York Daily News explains, because the Education Department found that Fisher was “using school time for unofficial purposes.” She is now suing for $5,000 in back pay because she says the school “endorsed and aided” the fundraiser.

The goal was to raise $15,000 for Fisher’s nonprofit organization, This Ability Not Disability, which she said would be the portal that administered money to Aaron, “since he is a minor,” the report explains.

According to the Daily News, the school sent emails that encouraged people to donate to the “online campaign for Aaron’s animation and blog.”

Fisher is now back on the job, but she says the lawsuit is important to her. “I’m just trying to fight for what I believe is right,” said Fisher. “I’m nobody special, but from what I can understand, this happens to a lot of people.”


In addition to suing for the $5,000 income she was denied during the suspension, Fisher would also like the disciplinary letter that describes the incident removed from her file.

Read more at the New York Daily News.