U.S. school stops kicking out pregnant students
Published Thursday, August 9, 2012 9:21AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 9, 2012 4:56PM EDT
NEW ORLEANS -- A U.S. school is changing a policy that kicked pregnant students out of class and required them to be taught at home, the school's board chairman said Wednesday.
No one at Delhi Charter School in rural Louisiana realized there was anything wrong with the policy until the American Civil Liberties Union's state chapter threatened to sue, said chairman Albert Christman.
The policy has gotten "everybody up in a roar," he said.
The school required students who were suspected of being pregnant to take a pregnancy test. If they refused, or tested positive, they had to be home-schooled. The ACLU said the policy violated Title IX of the 1972 federal education law, which requires equal opportunities for both sexes.
Too many schools do not realize pregnant students should receive equal treatment, the National Women's Law Center said in a June report.
"Despite enormous advances for women and girls in education since 1972, schools across the country continue to bar pregnant and parenting students from activities, kick them out of school, pressure them to attend alternative programs, and penalize them for pregnancy-related absences," the law centre said in the report.
Louisiana Department of Education spokesman Barry Landry said he did not know the state's policies for pregnant students or whether they apply to private and religious schools getting tuition vouchers
Fatima Goss Graves, vice-president for education and employment at the non-profit law centre, said it gets several calls a month from school and college students who are pregnant or have children and are having trouble with their schools. Many of those problems are corrected just by telling students their rights and explaining how to negotiate with administrators, she said.
Goss Graves said she had never seen a school policy "that said you must take a pregnancy test in order to attend school. Or one that pushes, so overtly, students out."
Christman, the Delhi school board chairman, said "just a handful" of students were affected by the policy, which dates to 2006. All of them "came back to school and finished their school," he said.