Coast Guard Academy settles suit over cadets-with-kids ban

Oct 6, 2022, 1:32 PM | Updated: 8:50 pm

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) — A U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet who was expelled for becoming a father will get his degree as part of a legal settlement, his attorneys said Thursday.

Isaak Olson sued the academy in December after years of endeavoring to be reinstated as a cadet. He was two months from graduating, with a degree in mechanical engineering and a commission as an officer, when he disclosed in 2014 that his fiancée had given birth to their first child, according the lawsuit.

“No one should ever have to choose between the honor of being a Coast Guard cadet and the honor of being a parent,” Olson said Thursday in a statement released by his lawyers. He said he was “thankful the academy has reached a settlement that recognizes my right to both.”

The Coast Guard Academy confirmed the settlement but didn’t give details.

Olson was expelled under an academy regulation that barred cadets from having “any maternal or paternal obligation or responsibility,” according to the lawsuit. Olson’s lawyers said the policy still stands.

Olson learned of his fiancée’s pregnancy in April of his junior year, and the baby was born in August 2013, according to the lawsuit. It said he was never asked about dependents until he got a duty screening application in March 2014 and disclosed the child’s birth.

The couple had Olson’s parental rights terminated in hopes of enabling him to graduate, and he later went through a long administrative process to try to get his status restored, to no avail, according to his lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Connecticut, and Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic.

Along the way, Olson enlisted in the Coast Guard, and the couple married and had another child, the attorneys said. He is now an aviation maintenance technician, stationed in Alaska.

The lawsuit sought his commission and back pay, since he makes less than he would as an officer. The ACLU said there is no financial component to the settlement, but it does include a statement that will allow him to apply to be commissioned as an officer.

“Becoming a parent shouldn’t be seen as a hardship,” Olson said in his statement. “I look forward to the day that cadets are given the same rights as the rest of the service.”

The federal law that funded and authorized the Defense Department for the 2022 fiscal year gives the military until the end of December to craft “regulations that include the option to preserve parental guardianship rights” for cadets or midshipmen who become pregnant or father children while at one of the department’s service academies.

The law applies to the U.S. Military Academy, the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy — but not to the Coast Guard Academy, which is run by the Department of Homeland Security.

The academy said in a statement that there is ongoing litigation on the subject, so it wouldn’t comment.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Republican presidential candidates, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, talking with forme...

Associated Press

The GOP debate field was asked about Trump. But most of the stage’s attacks focused on Nikki Haley

The four Republican presidential candidates debating Wednesday night mostly targeted each other instead of Donald Trump.

5 days ago

Law enforcement officers head into the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus after reports of an ...

Associated Press

Police say 3 dead, fourth wounded and shooter also dead in University of Nevada, Las Vegas attack

Police said a suspect was found dead Wednesday as officers responded to an active shooter and reports of multiple victims at UNLV.

5 days ago

President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, leaves after a court appearance, July 26, 2023, in Wilming...

Associated Press

Republicans threaten contempt proceedings if Hunter Biden refuses to appear for deposition

House Republicans are threatening to hold Hunter Biden in contempt if he does not show up this month for a closed-door deposition.

5 days ago

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., listens to a question during a news conference, March 30, 2022, in W...

Associated Press

Tuberville is ending blockade of most military nominees, clearing way for hundreds to be approved

Sen. Tommy Tuberville announced Tuesday that he's ending his blockade of hundreds of military promotions, following heavy criticism.

6 days ago

An employee works inside the Hanwha Qcells Solar plant on Oct. 16, 2023, in Dalton, Ga. On Tuesday,...

Associated Press

US job openings fall to lowest level since March 2021 as labor market cools

U.S. employers posted 8.7 million job openings in October, the fewest since March 2021, in a sign that hiring is cooling.

6 days ago

Megyn Kelly poses at The Hollywood Reporter's 25th annual Women in Entertainment Breakfast, Dec. 7,...

Associated Press

The fourth GOP debate will be a key moment for the young NewsNation cable network

By airing the fourth Republican presidential debate, NewsNation network will almost certainly reach the largest audience in its history.

6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Follow @KTAR923...

West Hunsaker at Morris Hall supports Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on Morris Hall and its commitment to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona.

Coast Guard Academy settles suit over cadets-with-kids ban