This case involves the constitutionally-protected right of school children to be free from unwarranted and coerced medical examinations. In mid-April 2003, a group of 13- and 14- year-old girls were targeted after allegedly skipping school to attend a "hooky party." When the girls returned to their school, Intermediate School 164 in northern Manhattan, they were suspended and school officials refused to let them return to classes unless and until they underwent intrusive and highly private medical examinations, including pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease (STD) and HIV tests, and unless they turned over the test results to the school.
The NYCLU’s Reproductive Rights Project filed a lawsuit against I.S. 164 school officials, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the City of New York, alleging that the illegal suspensions violated the students’ due process rights; and that requiring the students to submit to medical exams and turn over their results violated the students’ rights against unreasonable searches and their rights to privacy, confidentiality and bodily integrity. The suit also asserted that suspending the girls, but not the boys who had allegedly gone to the party, on the condition of submitting to and disclosing the results of medical exams violated the girls’ constitutional right to Equal Protection and discriminated against them on the basis of gender, in violation of Title IX (the federal anti-discrimination in education law).
On Jan. 30, 2004, following extensive settlement negotiations, the District Court approved a stipulation of settlement containing policy changes to ensure that such illegal demands are not again made of students. Under the settlement, the Department of Education cleared the girls’ school records and paid damages. Furthermore, the DOE agreed to revise its school policy to make clear that school officials may not demand that students undergo or reveal the results of pregnancy, STD and HIV testing, and that school officials may not demand such information from student’s health care providers. The new policy also makes clear that school officials cannot exclude students for being pregnant, HIV positive or having an STD. The DOE also promised and confirmed that all middle school and high school principals and guidance counselors, among others, would receive training on the new policy prior to the start of the 2004-2005 school year.
S.D.N.Y., Index No. 03 Civ. 4036 (HB) (direct)