May a school require a pregnant student to obtain a doctor’s permission before allowing her to attend school late in her pregnancy if the school is worried about the student’s health or safety?

  • Schools cannot require a pregnant student to produce a doctor’s note in order to stay in school or participate in activities unless the same requirement to obtain a doctor’s note applies to all students being treated by a doctor. The pregnant student should not be treated differently from other students being cared for by a doctor, even when a student is in the later stages of pregnancy. Never presume that a pregnant student is unable to attend a school or participate in school activities.

What types of assistance must a school provide to a pregnant student at school?

  • A school must make adjustments that are reasonable and responsive to the student’s temporary pregnancy status. Some examples are providing a larger desk, allowance of frequent trips to the bathroom, or access to elevators. Other examples include transferring to on-line courses, video lectures, extended deadlines, alternative assignments in lieu of class participation credit, submission of coursework online, and allowance of make-up exams or quizzes missed. OIE will always advise the Student to remain in contact with Professors to determine a “reasonable” time period to make-up and/or submit assignments as well as to take exams and/or quizzes. If an “Incomplete” is required, all necessary approvals must be obtained by the Student

Does a school have to excuse a student’s absences due to pregnancy or childbirth?

  • Yes. When the student returns to school, the student must be reinstated to the status held when the leave began

Does a school need to provide special services to a pregnant student?

  • Title IX requires a school to provide the same special services to a pregnant student that it provides to students with temporary medical conditions.

What about a Professor’s policy about class attendance/make-up work?

  • Extended deadlines and make-up work are reasonable and responsive adjustments if the absence was due to pregnancy or childbirth. Alternative assignments should be offered in lieu of class attendance or participation credits.

What about male parents?

  • The same policy applies to male parents; however, absences must be related to the medical condition of the mother (e.g., prescribed bed rest). Compliance with Title IX is to ensure that all policies are implemented equitably without regard to sex/gender.