Attendance Awareness Month and Title IX

By Kayla Wilson, Fresno Office of Education

When you hear of Title IX, do you relate it to gender equality and sports?  So often we think of Title IX as equality in sports representation, support and equipment.  In 1972, Title IX was created to ban sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs and entities.  What many do not know is this law also protects pregnant and parenting students in public schools or any school receiving federal money against discrimination, and that can help them to meet attendance requirements and stay in school.

Every teenager entering high-school should be supported to graduate regardless of their circumstances.  Teen parents are no different. Those of us who work diligently in the trenches with and for these students know all too well the hardships they face in and out of the school setting.  But how many of you truly know the rights of teen parents under Title IX?

Did you know?????

  • Schools must provide equal access to school and activities, and any special services provided to temporarily disabled students, must also be provided for pregnant students
  • Students cannot be forced out of their school to attend alternative schools, even if the school/program is specifically designed to meet the needs pregnant/parenting teens. The program/school must offer the same opportunities that other students get.   If a parenting teen is taking all AP courses at her current school, those course also must be available to her at the alternative school.
  • Absences must be excused by school due to childbirth or pregnancy for as long as the doctor deems necessary. This also means a school cannot dictate its own attendance policy or “maternity leave” policy for students.  The school must adhere to the doctor’s note.
  • Student do not have to have submit or request a doctor’s or note to attend school unless all students are required to submit a doctor’s note.
  • Schools cannot stop or prevent a pregnant/parenting student from participating in school activities. Schools cannot ask for a doctor’s note unless it requires all other students who have a medical condition treated by a doctor for a doctor’s note, too..  This includes Sports, School Clubs, Cheerleading, Honor Society, Leadership and any other school related association or group.
  • Teachers cannot refuse or deny students attendance to their classes based on pregnancy/parenting.
  • Schools cannot force a pregnant/parenting student to take separate classes or parenting programs if they choose not too.
  • Pregnant/Parenting students must be given the same amount of time to make up work that they were on disability leave. For example, 6 weeks of disability=6 weeks to make up work
  • Grades cannot be changed because of absence or leave.
  • School staff cannot reject or change the length of time of disability.

We often forget that pregnant and parenting teens are still teenagers.  They have special needs and need extra support to juggle the hardships of parenting and obtaining their education.  Helping advocate for our teen parents will increase their opportunity to graduate from high-school and hopefully move on to either vocational or secondary educational programs.