AUSTIN, Texas - Austin ISD denied almost 1,000 teachers' accommodation requests to work from home next semester. One of those requests was from a woman undergoing chemotherapy for a rare heart condition.
Now a former student has stepped up to raise money for her teacher’s PPE.
“I broke into tears,” said Annie Dragoo, who has been a teacher at AISD for 17 years. She was one of the 940 teachers that had their work from home accommodation denied. “My initial thought was if someone like me is not approved, who can they approve?”
Dragoo says she has a rare autoimmune disease she discovered she had several years ago.
“In 2013, I was on a field trip with students and I collapsed from cardiac arrest, and I spent five days on a life support machine that was a heart and lung bypass,” said Dragoo.
Her doctors diagnosed her with Cardiac Sarcoidosis. “Only two to 5% of the population have Cardiac Sarcoid, and that is basically an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks itself and the white blood cells gather in your heart,” she said.
Dragoo says she's doing chemotherapy to treat it. “According to CDC and high risk, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, I have a disability and I have accommodations. Why can't I continue to teach from home,” she said.
Dragoo has submitted an appeal to AISD, but still hasn't heard anything back. She says come next semester, she's expected to work on campus.
One of her former students decided to help by creating a GoFundMe.
“My initial response was I was mad, and then I wanted to know what to do, how to help, how to make it better,” said Kendra Coet, who says she did it to give back to her teacher and help her be safe. “This particular GoFundMe is going towards a very specific type of PPE that Mrs. Dragoo needs in order to go back to the classroom like AISD is wanting her to do."
Dragoo says she's grateful. “I don't teach because I want the money. That's not why we teach, and so to have someone do that, it made me feel loved,” she said.
As Dragoo awaits AISD's response to her appeal, she says she will continue to figure out ways to make working on campus possible.
FOX 7 Austin reached out to Austin ISD for a statement on Dragoo's case but has not heard back.