US Coast Guard Academy ban on parents of students leads to court challenge

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A former US Coast Guard Academy cadet sued the school on Wednesday, alleging that the school’s policy prohibiting cadets from being custodial parents violates federal law.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by Isaak Olson, who enrolled at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, from 2010. Mr Olson alleges he was deported in the spring of 2014, a few weeks before her expected graduation date, after telling administrators that her fiancee had given birth to their first child.

Under current rules, students of military service academies are prohibited from having parental responsibilities while enrolling. Coast Guard Academy cadets may withdraw from school and request a return “upon resolution of parental responsibilities,” according to cadet regulations. A student who wishes to remain enrolled must have an abortion, or ask her partner to do so, or relinquish custody of the child.

Enlisted members and military officers have no restrictions on their parental rights.

“The decision to become a parent is deeply personal, and no school or job should be able to interfere with that choice,” said Elana Bildner, a lawyer with the Connecticut ACLU, who filed the complaint on Mr. Olson’s behalf. . She called the regulation archaic and morally reprehensible.

A representative of the Coast Guard Academy referred the questions to Coast Guard headquarters. A Coast Guard spokeswoman said the service – whose head has been named in the lawsuit – does not comment on outstanding legal issues. A representative of the Department of Homeland Security, whose secretary is also cited as an accused, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit alleges, among other allegations, that the school and military leaders deprived Mr. Olson of his constitutional due process rights.

Mr Olson, who enlisted in the Coast Guard in 2014, is seeking his diploma and commissioned commission and the school to end its ban on cadets being parents. He alleges in the lawsuit that failure to obtain the officer’s commission or the baccalaureate cost him professional opportunities and financial compensation.

Concerns about the limited rights of parents of cadets have gained ground in Washington. Last summer, Senators Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D., NY) introduced a bill that would allow students to remain enrolled while retaining their parental rights. The Dignity, Equality and Candidate Education Act, or CADET Act, has since added eight more co-sponsors and has been referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

A related bill has also been introduced in the House.

“This policy is unfair, archaic and unacceptable,” Cruz said in an email.

Write to Melissa Korn at [email protected]

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