Local mother allegedly penalized by a class instructor after requesting a break to pump breast milk

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS — Wednesday, a woman took to Facebook writing that she was embarrassed after being dismissed from her traffic safety class at Illinois Central College.

She approached the class instructor telling him she needed to pump her breast milk. Allegedly, the teacher denied her request saying she must leave the class if she couldn’t be back in the allotted 10-minute break.

The woman was not allowed to complete the class and said she ultimately wasted her money.

Elizabeth Hulva, a registered nurse with OSF St. Francis Medical center said not being able to release milk is not good for a mother’s health.

“Breasts will fill up and moms can feel very full and engorged. They [would] be at risk of mastitis if they weren’t removing milk frequently,” Hulva said.

Hulva said if a mom isn’t able to breastfeed or pump for her baby eight times in 24 hours she may see a decrease in her milk supply.

“Not every mom is able to breastfeed their baby all the time. Sometimes they have to use a pump when she’s at work or back in school,” she said.

Rocco Cappello, ICC vice president for student success said he’s glad the student came forward with her issues.

“It takes people like this student being comfortable to step up and say hey I needed help…now we’re ready to recognize that and see that and do everything we can to assist her and help her to achieve her goals,” Cappello said.

In her post, the mother said she told the instructor, legally, she must be given a break to pump.

However, local attorney Rob Hanauer said Illinois law protects this right in public schools, but community colleges are exempt.

House bill 2369 amends the Illinois School Code to require a public school, including a charter school, to provide reasonable accommodations to a lactating pupil on a school campus to express breast milk, breastfeed an infant child, or address other needs related to breastfeeding.

“There appears to have been possible oversight because no action was taken to amend the Public Community College Act,” Hanauer said.

Cappello said the alleged misunderstanding could be the result of a knowledge gap. He adds that people who have never had any kids may not entirely understand.

“It’s almost impossible to know the challenges and changes in life that a new mother goes through.”

Rocco Cappello , Illinois Central College Vice President for Sutdent Success

He and his staff are working to make sure incidents like this are no longer an issue.

Thursday, the mother met with ICC leaders and said she filed a formal complaint at the school.

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