Fall 2013 Newsletter
Title IX Guidance Reinforces Protection for Pregnant and Parenting Students
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently issued guidance to secondary and post-secondary institutions regarding students who are parents. The guidance reiterates that Title IX requires schools to treat pregnant and parenting students the same way they treat other similarly situated students, and provides details to ensure more effective implementation of the law.
So, for example, a student who is pregnant or has given birth may not be required to submit medical certification to participate in extracurricular activities unless medical certification is required for all other students with physical or emotional conditions requiring medical attention. Schools must also “excuse a student’s absences because of pregnancy or childbirth for as long as the student’s doctor deems the absences medically necessary.”
Students returning to school after a pregnancy-related absence “must be allowed to return to the same academic and extracurricular status” they had before beginning leave. Schools should work with students who return from pregnancy-related absences to determine how they will make up missed work. Alternatives suggested by the OCR include “retaking a semester, taking part in an online course credit recovery program, or allowing the student additional time in a program to continue at the same pace and finish at a later date.”
The OCR guidance also reemphasizes that harassing a student because of their pregnancy violates Title IX. Western faculty or staff who are aware of any harassment or discriminatory treatment of pregnant or parenting students should report such information to Sue Guenter-Schlesinger, Title IX Coordinator, at x3307.