Teacher who took student to get abortion drops lawsuit following reinstatement of teaching credential

By JEREMY MARGOLIS

Monitor staff

Published: 07-09-2024 4:42 PM

A New Hampshire teacher who took a student to get an abortion agreed to drop her lawsuit against the Department of Education following the reinstatement late last month of her teaching credential.

The teacher, who filed her lawsuit anonymously, alleged that the DOE failed to follow procedural rules that guide professional discipline when it revoked her teaching credential without first holding a hearing.

The DOE stripped the teacher of her credentials on June 17, she filed her lawsuit on June 24, and her credentials were reinstated on June 26, according to court documents.

The teacher agreed to drop her lawsuit earlier this month, writing in a document filed jointly by the teacher’s lawyers and the Attorney General’s office that the parties would “allow for the administrative process to play out.” During that process, the teacher’s credentials will remain active, according to the filing.

The allegation that an unnamed teacher had improperly taken a student to get an abortion was first levied in an op-ed written by Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut in April.

“How should the Department respond . . . when, allegedly, an educator lies by calling in sick so they can take a student – without parental knowledge – to get an abortion”? Edelblut wrote on April 22, the day NHPR published an investigation about how the commissioner exercises his authority concerning “culture war”-related issues in public schools.

The teacher had been fired from a non-public special education school after investigators concluded that she had taken a pregnant student to a medical appointment during the school day, according to reporting by the Boston Globe.

But, the teacher alleged in her lawsuit, Edeblut had spun “a misleading narrative” – the student had been over the age of 18 and did not live with her biological parents. After the student told the teacher she was unable to get a ride to her abortion appointment from anyone else, the teacher agreed to drive her there, according to the lawsuit.

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The week afterward, in the fall of 2023, the school fired the teacher and referred the matter to the Department of Education, according to the lawsuit. The teacher alleged the state violated her due process rights by revoking her teaching credential without first holding a hearing, which is required under state law. She specifically accused Edelblut and Deputy Commissioner Christine Brennan of overstepping their authority by revoking her credentials prior to an adjudicatory proceeding.

With the lawsuit dismissed, it appears likely that the teacher will not request that hearing, which would be conducted by an official appointed by the state’s Board of Education. After the hearing, the officer would then have 45 days to issue a proposed decision. The proposal would be sent to the board, which would have the final say over any potential discipline.

Since being fired last fall, the teacher has obtained new employment in the Jaffrey-Rindge Cooperative School District, according to the Globe.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education referred a request for comment to the Attorney General’s office, which declined to comment. The teacher’s attorneys, James J. Armillay Jr. and Olivia F. Bensinger of Shaheen & Gordon, did not respond to a request for comment.