Federal

Feds Emphasize Legal Protections for Pregnant or Recently Pregnant Students, Employees

By Libby Stanford — October 04, 2022 2 min read
Young girl checking her pregnancy test, sitting on beige couch at home.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The U.S. Department of Education is reinforcing its message that schools must not discriminate against students or employees based on pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions, including abortion, outlining details in a new summary of resources for districts about those prohibitions.

The new resource document from the office for civil rights reminds schools about how Title IX, the federal sex discrimination law, applies to pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions. The summary follows the Education Department’s proposed Title IX revisions, released in June, that included clarification on the law’s protection of pregnant women and people experiencing pregnancy-related conditions.

The proposed changes to Title IX had earned over 200,000 public comments by the deadline of Sept. 12, and the department is expected to release final revisions to the law in the coming year. If the revisions remain as written, Title IX will more-explicitly protect students and employees experiencing pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions by clarifying that schools must provide accommodations, including lactation spaces and break times for breastfeeding mothers.

See Also

Jacquelyn Mancinelli stands near a small plaque with the name of her son inscribed on it in the angel garden at Virtua Hospital in Vorhees, NJ, on Aug. 4, 2022. Mancinelli is a teacher and the founder of Start Healing Together.
Jacquelyn Mancinelli, a high school English teacher, stands near a small plaque with the name of her son inscribed on it in the angel garden at Virtua Hospital in Voorhees Township, N.J. Mancinelli has experienced two pregnancy losses and has since started a support network for teachers who experience infertility and pregnancy loss.
Ryan Collerd for Education Week

In the document, the department made explicit that schools must not discriminate or exclude students from educational activities based on “pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery therefrom.” For example, teachers cannot legally refuse to accommodate a student who missed a deadline because of absences related to pregnancy, childbirth, or any other pregnancy-related condition.

The law also requires schools to treat those conditions the same as any temporary disability when it comes to benefits, services, plans, and policies for students and employees.

Schools must also provide leave to students experiencing pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions for as long as their doctor deems it medically necessary, according to the summary. Pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions are also justification for an employee’s leave of absence without pay for a reasonable period of time, the document says. Schools must allow employees to return to their pre-leave position or a comparable position without reducing their pay or promotional opportunities.

Students, parents, or employees intending to file a complaint about discrimination can do so by contacting their school’s Title IX coordinator, whose information should be displayed prominently on the school’s website. It’s also possible to file a complaint with the department by visiting its website.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Miguel Cardona in the Hot Seat: 4 Takeaways From a Contentious House Hearing
FAFSA, rising antisemitism, and Title IX dominated questioning at a U.S. House hearing with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
6 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies during a House Committee on Education and Workforce hearing on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Washington.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies during a House Committee on Education and Workforce hearing on Capitol Hill on May 7 in Washington.
Mariam Zuhaib/AP
Federal Arming Teachers Could Cause 'Accidents and More Tragedy,' Miguel Cardona Says
"This is not in my opinion a smart option,” the education secretary said at an EdWeek event.
4 min read
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks during Education Week’s 2024 Leadership Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va., on May 2, 2024.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks during Education Week’s 2024 Leadership Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va., on May 2, 2024.
Sam Mallon/Education Week
Federal Opinion Should Migrant Families Pay Tuition for Public School?
The answer must reflect an outlook that is pro-immigration, pro-compassion, and pro-law and order, writes Michael J. Petrilli.
Michael J. Petrilli
4 min read
Image of a pencil holder filled with a variety of colored pencils that match the background with international flags.
Laura Baker/Education Week via Canva
Federal New Title IX Rule Could Actually Simplify Some Things for Districts, Lawyers Say
School districts could field more harassment complaints, but they can streamline how they handle them, according to legal experts.
7 min read
Illustration of checklist.
F. Sheehan for Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus