Chalk v. United States District Court Central District of California
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Argued November 10, 1987; Decided November 18, 1987

Vincent L. Chalk taught learning impaired students at Orange County Department of Education. Later on in his teaching career Chalk contracted A.I.D.S in undisclosed circumstances. As a result of this condition the Orange County Department of Education relieved him of his duties and places him into an administrative position under the grounds that the condition posed a threat to the children, other teachers, and staff. Chalk filed an action suite to retain his original teaching position; however the district court denied the preliminary injunction.

Decision and Rationale:
The United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit over turned the original denial of the preliminary injunction by the lower level district court. It was agreed upon that Chalk would be considered handicapped. Chalk was placed back into his original position as a hearing impaired teacher. Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Chalk could teach because there is no threat to the students, staff, or other teachers if it is merely casual contact.


As teachers what really hinders us as good educators? Any condition of the body does not interfere with the mind. However, due to social constructs various conditions are considered a handicap merely because of begotten ignorance. This particular school taught discrimination instead of tolerance. Its best chance would have been to have Mr. Chalk educate the students himself on A.I.D.S. Life is real, things happen that are out of our control such as A.I.D.S. Had he been a female teacher who was raped and contracted it there may have not been the taboo associated with being a man with A.I.D.S.


T/F: Under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, can A.I.D.S be considered a handicap?

Completed By: Mariah Kerlick

Chalk v. United States District Court Central District of California

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Argued and Submitted November 10, 1987, Decided November 18, 1987

Chalk is a certified teacher of hearing impaired children. In February of 1987 he was diagnosed with AIDS. When the district found out that he had AIDS, they barred him from teaching in the classroom and moved him to an administrative position. Chalk filed suit against the district stating that their action violated Sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Which prohibits recipients of federal funds from discriminating against otherwise qualified handicapped persons. Chalk was denied by the District Court, then filed an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals found that the casual contact performance of Chalk’s teaching duties posed no significant risk or harm to others and appellant is qualified to do his job. Several cases influenced the decision of the court, such as: Zepeda v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 753 F.2d 719, 727 (9th Cir.1983); Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Comm'n. v. National Football League, 634 F.2d 1197, 1200-01 (9th Cir.1980); see also Ray v. School District of DeSoto County, 666 F.Supp. 1524 (M.D.Fla.1987); Thomas v. Atascadero Unified School District, 662 F.Supp. 376, 381-82 (C.D.Cal.1987). The court then granted him the preliminary injunction and remanded the case to the District Court with direction to enter a preliminary injunction ordering the defendant to restore Chalk to his former duties as a teacher to the hearing impaired.

Impact on Teaching:
I think there are many things that are viewed as a hindrance to one’s teaching ability that has little or nothing to do with teaching. With a handicap, it is easier because that can be fought in court if the district deems them unqualified based on a disability. It is basically the same thing as a book I read about a guy with Turrette’s syndrome, he was academically qualified to teach but went to 25 interviews before getting a job with an Atlanta school. Even the principal of that school wasn’t sure about hiring him. He turned out to be the one of the best teachers in the state of Georgia and has won many awards despite the fact that he has loud outbursts and barks sometimes. It is what is in our heads and our hearts that matters when it comes to teaching. Everything else is just politics.

Quiz Question:
What did Chalk claim was violated when the district removed him from his teaching position?
  1. First Amendment
  2. Fourth Amendment
  3. IDEA
  4. Rehabilitation Act of 1973
By Stacy Lynch