Documents show N.H. teacher took student for abortion

New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, center, and Terese Bastarache, right, at the Governor and Executive Council meeting on March 27, 2024. Bastarache, who is running for a seat on the council, founded the activist group We The People NH and says she communicates with the commissioner regularly. (New Hampshire Public Radio - Todd Bookman)

New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, center, and Terese Bastarache, right, at the Governor and Executive Council meeting on March 27, 2024. Bastarache, who is running for a seat on the council, founded the activist group We The People NH and says she communicates with the commissioner regularly. (New Hampshire Public Radio - Todd Bookman)

By JEREMY MARGOLIS

Monitor staff

Published: 06-11-2024 4:38 PM

Modified: 06-11-2024 6:53 PM


New Hampshire’s Department of Education has released documents that support an assertion made by Commissioner Frank Edelblut that a New Hampshire teacher transported a student to get an abortion.

The commissioner’s claim was made in an April Op-Ed written by Edelblut in response to an NHPR investigation into how the commissioner exercises his authority with respect to “culture war”-related issues in public schools.

“How should the Department respond  . . . when, allegedly, an educator lies by calling in sick so they can take a student – without parental knowledge – to get an abortion”? Edelblut wrote on April 22, the day the NHPR story was published.

A heavily redacted investigative report posted on the department’s website shows that at some point a school employee was terminated after an investigator found they drove a student to a “medical appointment.” The date of the document was redacted and a spokesperson at the Department of Education declined to say when or where the incident occurred. 

The report does not explicitly identify the medical appointment as an abortion but it states that the terminated employee “told the student to determine how far along they were[.]”

The report states that the employee then “found the facility for the student to have the medical procedure so that they knew it was a safe facility,” and accompanied the student because “the student didn’t have anyone to support them[.]”

The employee’s school and name are redacted, and the staff member’s position is redacted except that they are identified as a “teacher”. 

It is also unclear when the medical appointment occurred. All dates are redacted except for the date on which the school district informed the Department of Education of the matter, but the report only includes the month and day – October 18 – and not the year.

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The investigative report appears to support Edelblut’s claim that the employee called in sick prior to transporting the student.

The employee “confirmed that they called in sick due to food poisoning” but did not in fact have food poisoning, according to the report.

Department of Education spokesperson Kim Houghton declined to provide any additional information about the matter.

Also appended to the Op-Ed on the department’s website is a two-page investigation letter sent by Deputy Commissioner of Education Christine Brennan to an unidentified employee. Houghton declined to confirm whether the letter was connected to the same matter as the investigative report.

The letter – dated November 9 with the year redacted – informs an employee that the department is investigating whether he or she violated a provision of New Hampshire educators’ Code of Conducted called “Responsibility to Students”.

“Namely, the allegation is that you failed to properly supervise and abide by ethical standards regarding student boundary protocols with a student under your care,” Brennan wrote.

The letter stated that at the time of Brennan’s writing, the employee’s Experienced Educator License remained active.

It was not immediately clear what the conclusion of the investigation was.

Edelblut’s letter followed an NHPR report that detailed his personal involvement in in specific disputes surrounding course content and the accessibility of certain books. NHPR reporter Sarah Gibson found that the commissioner has called superintendents about certain books that have LGBTQ characters or include content related to sex or sexual abuse. Gibson also reported that Edelblut has personally directed the department’s investigator to look into complaints about the presence of certain school materials in classroom.

In his letter pushing back, Edeblut wrote that NHPR’s reporting goes “to great lengths to explore the feelings of educators that the Department has reached out to, but seems short on perspectives of the educators, students and parents who initially raised concerns to the Department.”

“Service to these constituencies means that we are responsive to them,” Edelblut wrote.

Jeremy Margolis can be contacted at jmargolis@cmonitor.com.