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Supporting Pregnant & Parenting Students

Title IX protects the rights of pregnant and parenting students. For faculty this means that a student who is pregnant or has a related condition should be treated similarly to students with temporary disabilities. It also means: 

  • If your program allows for excused absences, any medically necessary absences verified by the Title IX Coordinator  must be excused and the student must be allowed to make up work missed.
  • If a student takes a leave of absence due to pregnancy, the student must be able to return to the same academic status before the leave.
  • Pregnant students may not be excluded from participating in particular classes or programs, and certification to return to class cannot be required unless it is required for all other students. 
If a student discloses a pregnancy to you, you should inform the student of their right to contact the Title IX Coordinator to discuss options for ensuring the student can participate in class and have any medically necessary accommodations. Once the student provides medical documentation to the Title IX Coordinator, the student will receive a verification letter to review with you which discusses the necessary accommodations. It is up to you to identify what academic activities may be appropriate that preserve the quality of the course or academic requirement, while still allowing for the modification. If there are multiple options available, you are encouraged to offer those to the student. Commons modifications include: 
  • Rescheduling an exam or breaking an exam up into multiple parts
  • Excusing an absence from class and giving an alternate assignment
  • Allowing a student to participate in class virtually while on bedrest
  • Allowing for extra breaks to pump break milk
  • Granting an incomplete or leave of absence, if applicable
The easiest way to refer them to the Title IX Coordinator - either provide the Title IX Coordinator's email and contact information, or ask them if you can forward their name to the Title IX Coordinator, who will then reach out to the student directly.
Usually this means planning ahead to reschedule the exam for another date. This may include having the student take it earlier or giving an incomplete to take it later. Depending on the nature of the course, you may opt for an alternate to the exam such as a presentation or other type of way to demonstrate the learning of the material.
Spouses, adopting, or non-birth parents can also receive excused absences through the Title IX office. These absences also need to be medically necessary and be documented by the medical provider. This could include attending doctor appointments and the delivery itself. These students can also be referred to the Title IX Coordinator to provide their medical verification.
No. You should refer the student to Title IX or Student Disability Services for verification of absences and/or accommodations. Do not ask a student for medial documentation directly, unless the student wants to provide that for a leave of absence. For a leave of absence, students must provide medical documentation which can be given to the program directly or can be given to the Title IX Coordinator who will provide verification to the department.
No. All of the supportive measures are available to all students regardless of their geographic location. Online students are also entitled ot the same protections.
Title IX as a federal civil rights law overrides individual class grading policies. However, there are often reasonable ways to accommodate this. Some examples include: recording a lecture and asking the student to watch it and provide feedback, meeting one-on-one or with a small group, or doing alternate assignments that cover the same content. There may be in-person requirements for clinical supervision hours or other such accreditation requirements that cannot be waived without fundamentally altering the program. You can discuss these with the Title IX Coordinator if you have questions. In general, if there is ever an alternative offered for any other type of temporary condition, an alternative should be offered for pregnant students.
You can contact the Title IX Coordinator if you think the student is requesting something unreasonable or does not want to complete the alternatives you have agreed upon. If a student is requesting an academic modification that fundamentally alters the essential nature of the educational program, you or your academic program leadership may need to document that for the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator is a resource to both you and the student in determining what academic accommodations are appropriate under Title IX.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has released several resources that may be useful to review: 

Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students

Dear Colleague Letter (June 25, 2013)

Pregnancy Fact Resource (October 2022)

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