School Nurse Sues Over Being Fired For Taking Student for Pregnancy Test And Abortifa

  1. BANGOR, Maine, May 4, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) - School Administrative District 27, Portland Maine, is fighting a lawsuit brought by a former school nurse. Lola Charette was fired for taking one of the students, without parental consent, out of class to an off-campus 'clinic' where the girl was given a pregnancy test and an abortifacient drug.

    Charette is suing Fort Kent Community High School in U.S. District Court in Bangor for reinstatement and lost wages saying that she had been presented with an impossible conflict between the law and her orders from superiors. Charette's lawyer pointed out the dilemma, "She follows the law, which she has no control over, and gets fired in the middle of a school year."

    The case is highlighting the rift between the law, which adheres to the conflicting dictates of political correctness, and the actual desires and moral views of the public. The law prohibits a health-care provider from divulging medical information without the patient's consent. The School board contends that though the law allows minors to consent to medical intervention without parental notification, the nurse violated an 'unwritten' rule that allows parents to intervene. School Superintendent Sandra Bernstein ordered Charette to inform the girl's parents.

    Charette said that she tried to convince the girl to speak to her parents but the girl refused and would not give her permission for Charette to speak to them. Wanda Miller, executive director of the National School Nurse Association said that nurses risk losing their license if they violate confidentiality rules.

    The letter of dismissal says Charette was fired for "exercising poor judgment" in assisting students in obtaining "medical services without notifying the parents or the administration."

    http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/may/05050410.html
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  2. 134 Comments

  3. by   Jessy_RN
    Quote from brian
    BANGOR, Maine, May 4, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) - School Administrative District 27, Portland Maine, is fighting a lawsuit brought by a former school nurse. Lola Charette was fired for taking one of the students, without parental consent, out of class to an off-campus 'clinic' where the girl was given a pregnancy test and an abortifacient drug.

    Charette is suing Fort Kent Community High School in U.S. District Court in Bangor for reinstatement and lost wages saying that she had been presented with an impossible conflict between the law and her orders from superiors. Charette's lawyer pointed out the dilemma, "She follows the law, which she has no control over, and gets fired in the middle of a school year."

    The case is highlighting the rift between the law, which adheres to the conflicting dictates of political correctness, and the actual desires and moral views of the public. The law prohibits a health-care provider from divulging medical information without the patient's consent. The School board contends that though the law allows minors to consent to medical intervention without parental notification, the nurse violated an 'unwritten' rule that allows parents to intervene. School Superintendent Sandra Bernstein ordered Charette to inform the girl's parents.

    Charette said that she tried to convince the girl to speak to her parents but the girl refused and would not give her permission for Charette to speak to them. Wanda Miller, executive director of the National School Nurse Association said that nurses risk losing their license if they violate confidentiality rules.

    The letter of dismissal says Charette was fired for "exercising poor judgment" in assisting students in obtaining "medical services without notifying the parents or the administration."

    http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/may/05050410.html
    A minor is just that a MINOR or child. The parents are responsible for their child and should be aware of everything that goes on with them. It is so silly that just because the child wouldn't allow anyone tell the parents it had to be done. Well, what if the child was wanting to committ suicide or something, shouldn't the parents know of her intentions regardless of whether she wants them to find out or not? Anyhow, that is just my $0.02. I don't agree with the woman's actions but oh well to each its own.
  4. by   sbic56
    I don't see where the nurse did anything wrong. She tried to convince the teenager to speak with the parents, but would have been breaking confidentiality to do anything further. Her minor status does not matter in this case. I'll be watching to see how this turns out.

    http://www.ppww.com/Teens/Your_Rights.html

    Your Rights
    At Planned Parenthood, you have the right to:

    Privacy during your clinic visits.
    Confidential handling of your medical records.
    Be involved in planning your health care.
    Respectful treatment and equal access to care, regardless of lifestyle, race, ethnicity.
    Washington State laws which protect a minor's rights:

    Minors may get birth control, have an abortion and consent to a number of health care services without parental consent. Your medical records are confidential. (See State v. Koome, 1975 and RCW references below.)

    Reproductive Privacy

    Every individual has the right to privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions.

    It is the public policy of the state of Washington that:

    1) You have the right to choose or refuse birth control;

    2) You have the right to choose or refuse to have an abortion,

    3) The state shall not deny or interfere with a woman's fundamental right to choose or refuse to
    have an abortion; and

    4) The state shall not discriminate against the exercise of these rights in the regulation or
    provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information. (excerpts from RCW 9.02.100)

    Right to have an abortion

    The state may not deny or interfere with a woman's right to choose to have an abortion prior to viability of the fetus, or to protect her life or health. (RCW. 9.02.110)

    Statutory Rape

    1) A person is guilty of rape of a child in the third degree when the person has sexual intercourse
    with another who is at least fourteen years old but less than sixteen years old and not married to
    the perpetrator and the perpetrator is at least forty-eight months older than the victim.

    2) Rape of a child in the third degree is a class C felony. (RCW 9A.44.079)

    Sexually Transmitted Diseases

    A minor 14 years of age or older may consent to the furnishing of hospital, medical, or surgical care related to the diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. (RCW 70.24.110)
  5. by   Spidey's mom
    Walking into a PP clinic as a minor is different than a school nurse taking someone out of class and off campus without parental knowledge and getting an abortifacient.

    This is exactly the scenario that I absolutely disagree with. What right does a school nurse, a public employee of the school district, have to do this???????

    If this was my daughter, I'd be suing the school district and the nurse.

    steph
  6. by   tencat
    Wow. You get fired (possibly lose your license) over sharing confidential information, or you get fired for trying to help the kid. What a choice. I don't think I'd actually TAKE a kid to a clinic (that's just not covering your a#$ when you do that), but I'd definately give the kid all the information she needed to get an appointment at the clinic and let it be up to her to follow up on it. If the nurse did that, then I'd say she has no business getting fired. But if she actually physically TOOK the kid to a clinic, then I'd understand why they were a bit unhappy about that, though I imagine that the nurse's heart was in the right place.
  7. by   lpnstudentin2010
    if she took the kid after school cuz the kid asked her to like for moral support + a ride...that is ok...but taking her out of school to do it...NO WAY
  8. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    I see where the nurse did something wrong.

    I feel this was a conflict of interest.
  9. by   Spidey's mom
    I think the nurse could have given the child information. But that is it. Even after school. She is crossing a line as a professional.

    She took a girl out of class and drove her to a clinic where the girl was given something to induce an abortion. Without parental knowledge.

    This is just wrong.

    steph
  10. by   mattsmom81
    I agree with those who feel taking the child to the abortion center was very poor judgment; no doubt against school policy, and likely her BNE would see it as unprofessional conduct. She should have given information, referrals and support and stopped there.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
  11. by   sbic56
    Quote from stevielynn
    I think the nurse could have given the child information. But that is it. Even after school. She is crossing a line as a professional.

    She took a girl out of class and drove her to a clinic where the girl was given something to induce an abortion. Without parental knowledge.

    This is just wrong.

    steph
    steph
    OK, I'm with you that taking the kid out of class was not the best choice. The nurse should have helped her set up her own appointment and let it be up to the teen to get herself over there after school. It looks as if the nurse really wanted to be supportive to a kid in a bad place, but let her heart over rule her head. It's more about poltics than anything else. The school did not want to be involved and she put them in a place of involvement. I was focusing more on the part where her minor status has little to do with it, as by law parents do not need to be notified, if the minor chooses not to in cases like this. On that part, the nurse did nothing wrong.
  12. by   CHATSDALE
    nurse had no authority to physically take the girl to the clinic

    if the girl had an abortifacient she was at risk of hemorrhaging or other reaction .. she could have bled to death because parents were aware that she was at risk

    how old was the girl...there is a lot of differance between 13 and 17 as far as knowing what you are consenting to...if someone tells you 'i can make this all go away' it is hard for a scared kid to know all the problems that might arise

    by the way who is responsibile for the cost of this procedure...the parents who aren't considered important enough to told about it
  13. by   markjrn
    I wonder who treated her and what his/her accountability is in all of this?
  14. by   sbic56
    The story in the local paper has alot more detail about the case.

    http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/ne...oolnurse.shtml

    School nurse who helped girl get birth control sues over firing

    A veteran school nurse who was fired after taking a teenager to an off-campus clinic where she got a pregnancy test and a "morning after" birth-control pill is suing the superintendent in federal court.

    Lola Charette said she was unfairly fired from her job at Fort Kent Community High School because she followed the law and protected a student's right to confidentiality. But officials at School Administrative District 27 say she was terminated for violating an unwritten policy that prohibits students from leaving the school without parental permission.

    The case, which shows what can happen when a health-care provider's legal responsibilities clash with the community's sensitivity about teenage sex and birth control, is moving forward in U.S. District Court in Bangor after surviving a motion to dismiss.

    Charette wants to regain her job with back pay and is seeking money damages from the district, said her lawyer, David Webbert of Augusta. School officials put her in an impossible position, Webbert said.

    "She is a sacrificial lamb. She follows the law, which she has no control over, and gets fired in the middle of a school year," Webbert said.

    Central to Charette's case is Maine's confidentiality law, which prohibits a health-care provider from divulging medical information without the patient's consent, even when the patient is a minor. Charette asserts that she would have violated that law if she had followed Superintendent Sandra Bernstein's order to inform the student's parents about her visit to the clinic.

    According to notes taken at Charette's dismissal meeting that were quoted in Charette's complaint, Bernstein said the nurse had violated "community norms" and said, "If it was my daughter, I would want to know."

    Bernstein could not be reached for comment, but the lawyer representing her and the school district said Charette was fired for breaking school rules - not for protecting a student's constitutional rights.

    "Confidentiality was never an issue at all," said Melissa Hewey. "She was terminated for taking a student off grounds without a parent's permission. It doesn't matter if it was for birth control or to get a tattoo."

    Charette had worked as the K-12 school nurse in SAD 27 since August 1982. On Jan. 22, 2003, she was approached by a female student who said she thought she might be pregnant.

    The girl said she was anxious and could not concentrate in school or study for her exams. Charette helped her make an appointment with a local clinic for a pregnancy test.

    Charette said she tried to convince the girl to tell her parents and family doctor about the appointment, but the girl refused. She also would not give Charette permission to talk to her parents.

    School nurses, like other health-care professionals, are bound by confidentiality laws even when the patient is a minor, said Wanda Miller, executive director of the National School Nurse Association in Castle Rock, Colo.

    Miller said most state legislatures created the protections in the 1980s in response to concerns that children with sexually transmitted diseases were not seeking medical help because they didn't want their parents to know they were sexually active. As a result, diseases were spread, and treatable conditions went untreated.

    "It's also an issue in pregnancy," Miller said. "You don't want a pregnancy to go on for five months without any health care, because there can be consequences for the fetus."

    A school nurse who violates state confidentiality laws could be sued by the patient and could lose his or her nursing license, Miller said.

    The Fort Kent student told Charette that she needed a ride to the appointment. Charette borrowed a school vehicle and took the girl to the clinic. While there, in addition to the pregnancy test, the girl received a dose of a "morning after" contraceptive, which can allow women to avoid pregnancy if taken shortly after intercourse.

    The next morning, the girl asked Charette for a ride to a follow-up appointment. She had another girl with her, who also had an appointment. Charette again borrowed a school vehicle, signed the girls out and took them to the clinic.

    When she got back to the school office, the principal's secretary told Charette that one of the girls had thrown away a cardboard package for "Plan-B," a brand name for the contraceptive.

    Charette was called in for a meeting with Bernstein three days later. According to notes of the meeting quoted in court documents, Bernstein told Charette she had informed the girls' parents.

    "We don't tell any student that anything is confidential," Bernstein is reported to have said during the meeting. "Can you imagine how the parents feel?"

    According to Charette's suit, Bernstein said Charette's actions violated "community norms."

    Charette was fired the next day. According to a letter dated March 3, 2003, Bernstein wrote that she was terminated for "exercising poor judgment" in assisting students in obtaining "medical services without notifying the parents or the administration."

    This, Bernstein wrote, "resulted in the District losing confidence in her performance and judgment."

    Hewey, the district's lawyer, insists that Charette's misjudgment was leaving school grounds without permission, not the controversial nature of the trip. She acknowledged the school had no written policy about off-campus medical appointments but said it was a well-established rule.

    Webbert said that argument is implausible.

    "Oh, sure. You fire someone after 20 years over a policy that is so unimportant nobody ever bothered to write it down?" Webbert said.

    The real issue, Webbert said, is whether Bernstein had a right to fire Charette for helping students get contraceptives and protecting their privacy. Even if you have strong feelings about teen sex and birth control, Webbert said, "You can't fire someone for doing her job."

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