Shantelle Hicks, a 15-year-old from Gallup, N.M. claims she was first forced to leave the Wingate Elementary School and then publicly outed as being pregnant in front of all students and employees, KOB-TV reports.
Wingate Elementary is a public boarding school for Native American children from kindergarten through 8th grade.
Now, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Hicks has filed suit against the school, claiming they violated her constitutional rights. According to the complaint, school officials kicked Hicks out of school after learning of her pregnancy, but readmitted her four days later when the ACLU of New Mexico informed the school that it’s illegal to deny a student access to education for being pregnant.
But two weeks after her readmission, a school counselor and the director of the middle school forced the teen to stand before the middle school assembly and announced her condition — allegedly before anyone but her sister knew.
“It was so embarrassing to have all the other kids staring at me as I walked into the gymnasium,” said Hicks, according to KOB. “I didn’t want the whole school to know I was pregnant because it’s not their business, and it wasn’t right for my teachers to single me out.”
According to the suit, school officials informed Hicks that she would be a “bad example” to other students, and requested she attend another school, a Washington Post local report states.
“It is outrageous that educators would subject a young woman in their care to such cruelty,” ACLU of New Mexico cooperating attorney Barry Klopfer said, according to the Indian Country Today Community Network.
The girl’s mother, Vicky Hicks, says her daughter’s public humiliation was wrong.
“[Students] shouldn’t be treated differently because they’re pregnant,” Hicks told KOAT-TV.
The lawsuit was filed on March 6th and seeks punitive damages and declaratory relief for violation of constitutional rights to equal protection and of the Title IX prohibition against sex and pregnancy discrimination in education.