Two parents are suing The Peekskill School District of New York, claiming school officials in 2011 helped their 16-year-old daughter obtain a prescription for birth control pills without their consent.
Anthony and Eva Jackson filed the lawsuit on May 30 with the state Supreme Court, according to USA Today. The lawsuit names two defendants, Peekskill High School Psychologist James Tosto and his wife, Dawn Tosto.
The lawsuit says the Jacksons are suing “on behalf of all other parents whose children were subject to physical examinations” and “given access to and/or distributed birth control without the parents knowledge, consent or opportunity to opt out.” The court papers acknowledge that “the precise number of such persons is unknown.”
According to the Jackson’s and their attorney, David MacCartney, James Tosto arranged to have the girl taken to a nearby clinic run by Hudson River Health Services where she could undergo a physical examination and receive the birth control prescription. Tosto’s wife, Dawn, is an employee at the clinic.
“[The] counselor took [the] student through an elevator, down … out a side door after having called his wife at the health clinic and had her come in her private vehicle to pick the girl up,” MacCartney told local CBS affiliate WFAN.
Another attorney for the Jacksons', Mary Marzolla, said that the examination and administration of birth control constitute “health services” and that providing such services violates her clients’ parental rights.
“The rights of parents do not end when their daughter walks through the schoolhouse door," Marzolla said. "New York and federal laws provide protection to the Jackson family from those who violate these important civil rights.”
The state’s School Health Examination Guidelines say that parental consent is required for health services. They also say that consent is needed from parents before condoms can be distributed to students.
However, Education Department spokesman Tom Dunn told local newspaper, The Journal News, that there could be ways around that.
He pointed to a footnote in the guidelines that stipulates that districts may “obtain passive parental consent for health services, treatment and remedial care by providing opt-out letters to parents before the beginning of the school year.”
Superintendent of the school district, Larry Licopoli, said he is unable to comment because district officials “have not received any notification regarding this lawsuit.”
The Journal News also reported that it had learned that Anthony Jackson is an elementary teacher within the district. A representative from the school said that he is currently on leave.
The Jacksons' daughter, who is now 19, is not a party to the lawsuit. Her parents are seeking unspecified damages.