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Court Won’t Reconsider Student Ultrasound Ruling

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A federal appeals court this week turned down a request to reconsider a case in which former Valencia College students contend their constitutional rights were violated in a training program that included students performing ultrasound procedures on each other.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October overturned a U.S. District Court judge's decision to dismiss the case, filed by former students Melissa Milward, Elyse Ugalde and Ashley Rose. Employees of the Orlando state college then filed a petition asking the full appeals court to take up the case, a request known as seeking an "en banc" hearing. But the court issued a one-sentence decision Wednesday rejecting the petition for rehearing.

The former students allege that they faced retaliation after objecting to students performing invasive procedures, known as "transvaginal ultrasounds,” on each other. Also, two of the former students said the procedures subjected them to unconstitutional searches under the Fourth Amendment.

The three-judge panel in October said the case should go back to the lower court. In seeking a hearing before the full appeals court, attorneys for the Valencia employees disputed that the students' rights were violated and said the ruling by the three-judge panel raised questions of “exceptional importance to all public educational institutions regarding curricula that involve student-to-student educational training exercises, as such institutions are now threatened with embroilment in previously unrecognized civil rights litigation.”