Lawsuit claims Kentucky school officials prevented woman from breastfeeding infant daughter

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A mother who was breastfeeding her infant daughter at Jeffersontown Elementary School says school staff interfered with her legal right to do so.

Myranda Juarez filed suit against the Jefferson County Public Schools because she was asked by Jeffersontown Elementary officials to move to a private room to breastfeed her infant daughter. (Source: Sara Rivest, WAVE 3 News)

Myranda Juarez has four children, two of them are elementary students at Jeffersontown Elementary. She is a member of the school's Site Based Decision Making (SBDM) committee.

In mid-March, Juarez was helping out at the school for picture day in the school's gymnasium and brought along her infant daughter, Natalie. Juarez says around lunchtime the volunteer duties were slowing down a bit and Natalie was getting fussy.

"I thought it was a good opportunity since we wouldn't be very busy and there were students leaving to just go ahead and take that time to just sit where we were," said Juarez.

Juarez says she tried to keep as much skin covered as possible while nursing Natalie, but counselor Heather McGovern approached her and offered to let Juarez use her office.

"I just simply don't have to be moved," said Juarez. "I didn't prefer to be moved. I didn't feel like I was making a disruption. I didn't have anybody coming up to me and saying anything further and the volunteers and teachers I spoke with said they didn't know I was doing anything more than holding her and on a phone call."

When Juarez declined to go somewhere private, she claims McGovern told her if she is going to breastfeed in the school, she needed to do it in the private office.

"It caught me off guard," said Juarez. "I tried to retain my composure."

Juarez said McGovern told her she could be making students feel uncomfortable.

"I would never want to put any one in that kind of position, it was never my intent," said Juarez. "My intent was just to calm my child and put her to sleep."

In a meeting a few days later with Principal Brooke Schilling, Juarez learned McGovern was following instructions from the principal and that nursing would only be allowed in the private office in the future.

Juarez said because of this, her volunteer duties are on hold and she's missed out on important school events with her children.

In a lawsuit filed by attorney Ted Gordon, Juarez is seeking damages and sensitivity training for all employees of Jefferson County Public Schools.

Kentucky Revised Statute 211.755 prohibits anyone from interfering with a mother breastfeeding her child in any location if a mother is authorized to be there.

"It's really another example of JCPS not enforcing the laws in something that is really clear," said attorney Andrew Mize.

JCPS cannot comment on pending litigation.

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