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Update On Challenge To Student Pregnancy Reporting Policy, Port Washington Teachers’ Association Et Al. V. Port Washington Board

In November 2002, the Port Washington School Superintendent issued a memo requiring any staff member who learns of a student’s pregnancy to inform the school social worker, who then must either convince the student to inform her parents of the pregnancy or, if the student refuses, to inform her parents directly, after consulting the principal and the superintendent. In the spring of 2003, the NYCLU’s Reproductive Rights Project demanded that the policy immediately be revoked, but the District refused.

On April 1, 2004, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) filed a complaint in the Eastern District of New York, alleging that the policy violated students’ constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection, female students’ rights under Title IX (the federal anti-discrimination in education statute), and state statutes establishing the confidentiality of communications with licensed health and mental health professionals. The complaint requested that the court reject the policy.

The RRP, along with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, filed an amicus brief on behalf of six health and mental health professional organizations and in support of the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The brief argued that the parental notification policy violates the constitutional rights of minors to obtain pregnancy-related care and make decisions about continuing or terminating pregnancies without parental interference.

On March 22, 2005, the District Court denied NYSUT’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The judge found the suit non-justiciable, asserting that the plaintiffs had “no reason to believe that their jobs were at risk if they violated the policy.” On August 31, 2005, the RRP received notice that the school district has filed a motion to dismiss the case; we await a decision from the District Court.

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