Poway mother says school district discriminated against her for breastfeeding her baby

Incident occurred during meeting with teacher, son

SAN DIEGO - A local mother says the Poway Unified School District discriminated against her for breastfeeding her baby and then punished her 8-year-old son.

Now, she is taking her fight to the district's front door by organizing a "nurse-in" outside the district's headquarters in Carmel Mountain.

Rachel Rainbolt says she breastfed her 1-year-old in front of a teacher at Meadowbrook Middle School in April.

"She looked kind of disgusted and horrified," said Rainbolt.

Rainbolt said it was during a private session with her 8-year-old son and his female teacher. She says no one else was in the room.

"She turned to me and said, 'That was not appropriate,'" Rainbolt told 10News. "'Do you know what a breast feeding cover is? That's not appropriate to do here. Aren't you concerned that people will stare?'"

Rainbolt said the next day she got a call from the district saying her 8-year-old son could no longer attend a monthly group presentation class because of the incident.

"Heartbreaking and even that much more scary," said Rainbolt. "Now, I have to start to worry about his well-being. I felt completely ashamed and scared."

Rainbolt said she made a formal complaint of discrimination to the state, and that the state sided with the school.

She said she is not giving up her fight. She cited California law that a mother may breastfeed her child in any public location.

"I came back asserting that it was a legally protected right." Rainbolt said. "Her last words were, 'So you're not willing to comply with my requests to stop?' And I said no."

Rainbolt hopes to get dozens of people to nurse in public outside the district's headquarters. According to a Facebook event page, the "nurse-in" is planned for next Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Officials at the Poway Unified School District issued the following statement to 10News on Wednesday:

"On Tuesday, September 17, 2013, a 10News broadcast reported on a local mother's plans to hold a public 'nurse in' outside the Poway Unified School District's district office on Wednesday, September 25.

The District abides by Civil Code and Education Code in balancing the rights of mothers to publically [sic] breast feed with our responsibility to provide a classroom environment that is safe and supportive of all students' learning.

PUSD respects the right for a peaceful demonstration."

Print this article Back to Top