ALBUQUERQUE (CN) – A mother claims in Federal Court that her daughter’s public school “publicly embarrassed and humiliated” the eighth-grader “by forcing her to stand up in front of the entire middle school at an assembly while the middle school director and counselor publicly announced that she was pregnant.”
The mother and daughter sued Wingate Elementary School, Middle School Director of Wingate Elementary School Christine Edsitty-Beach, and Wingate Elementary Counselor Sadie Martinez.
The student, S.H., is a minor, eighth-grade student at Wingate Elementary, near Gallup, according to the complaint.
The complaint states: “After learning that S.H., a student at Wingate Elementary School, was pregnant, the defendants, school officials, initially told her she could no longer attend the school. After she insisted on her right to attend the school and returned to class a few days later, following intervention by the school principal, defendants publicly embarrassed and humiliated S.H by forcing her to stand up in front of the entire middle school at an assembly while the middle school director and counselor publicly announced that she was pregnant.”
The mother says that on the day that that S.H. discovered she was pregnant, her mother told the public elementary/middle school’s dormitory manager of her daughter’s condition.
S.H. was immediately banned from the dorms and at a later meeting, the school sought to ban S.H. from the school altogether, the mother says. The mother says she pressed the matter with the assistance of the New Mexico ACLU and persuaded the school to let her daughter remain in class.
But days later, the school altered the content of a scheduled school assembly to pull in the entire student body, including S.H., and forced the girl to stand before the entire school while her pregnancy was revealed, the complaint states.
“Defendants made this announcement in retaliation for S.H.’s having asserted her rights to continue to attend school during her pregnancy,” according to the complaint.
It adds: “In announcing S.H.’s pregnancy at the assembly, defendants acted in malicious, reckless, wanton, willful, and knowing indifference to S.H.’s constitutional and statutory rights.”
The mother and daughter seek damages for constitutional violations and violations of Title IX. They want the school ordered to provide training to its employees about gender discrimination and pregnancy discrimination, and Edsitty-Beach and Martinez ordered to attend the training.
They also seek compensatory and punitive damages for reckless, wanton, willful, and knowing indifference to the child’s rights.
They are represented by Alexandra Freedman Smith, with the ACLU of New Mexico, in Albuquerque, and by Barry Klopfer, of Gallup.