1. Does a school have to excuse a student’s absences due to pregnancy or child birth?
Yes, Title IX requires a school to excuse a student’s absence(s) due to pregnancy
or related conditions; including recovery from childbirth, for as long as the student’s
doctor deems the absence medically necessary. When they return, they must be reinstated
to the status they held when the leave began, which should include giving them the
opportunity to make up any missed work. The professor may offer the student alternatives
to making up missed work such as allowing the student to take an incomplete for later
The college or university can require a pregnant student to provide a doctor’s certification
of fitness to continue in an education program or activity only if the same requirement
is imposed on all other students with physical or emotional disabilities requiring
a doctor’s care. If a professor wishes to request a doctor’s certification of fitness
or excuse for the leave taken for a student, Lucas DeLuca, Director for Disability
Support Services (DSS), or another member of DSS, can assist by evaluating whether
the same is requested of other students given their disabilities. A faculty or staff
member may also refer pregnant students to DSS for other assistance, such as resources
and information. DSS can be reached by email at email@example.com or phone at
509-542-4412 (ext. 2252).
2. If a professor adjusts grades based on class attendance, can they lower a grade
because of the classes a student misses due to pregnancy?
No. Students cannot be penalized for pregnancy or related conditions. If a professor
provides specific “points” or other advantages to students based on class attendance,
the student must be given the opportunity to earn back the credit from classes missed
due to pregnancy, so that the student can be reinstated to the status held before
the student took leave.
3. Does the institution/school have to let students make up the work missed while
Yes, federal law requires professors to allow students to make up the work missed
while out due to pregnancy or a related condition, including recovery from childbirth.
For example, if a doctor’s note excuses the student from class for several weeks because
of “bed rest” before giving birth, professors must provide the student with the appropriate
assignments and information to make up the work required to be completed while absent.
The makeup assignments and tests must be reasonably equivalent to those missed, but
need not be identical. Depending on the nature of the academic instruction or program
(e.g., clinical rotations), this may not be feasible and other forms of modifications
may need to be made.
4. Can a professor have an absence/makeup policy that applies regardless of any medical
No. While a professor may have a strict attendance policy, the college or university
is bound by federal civil rights law. Title IX requires the college or university
to ensure that all faculty and staff comply with the law and do not discriminate against
pregnant and parenting students.
5. The student wants to take a quarter off. Can the student keep their status, scholarships,
Not necessarily – it depends on the leave policy at the college. If they want to take
off more time than the doctor says is medically necessary, the student will need to
consult the college’s non-medical leave policy. Cheryl Holden’s Office will work through
any financial aid issues resulting from leaves that may result in withdrawal or leave
for a quarter or more.
Resources on Title IX and Pregnant or Parenting Students
Below are some links that you may review for further information:
-Office of Civil Rights Know Your Rights:http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/dcl-know-rights-201306-title-ix.html
(For Pregnant and Parenting Students)
-Supporting the Academic Success ofPregnant & Parenting Students Handbook: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/pregnancy.pdf
CBC’s Lactation Rooms
Title IX protects individuals who are nursing from being forced to choose between
school and breastfeeding. Employers are required to provide a place other than a bathroom
that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.
We have designated spaces for both student and employee use on the Pasco and Richland
campus. More information on CBC’s lactation rooms can be found at: https://www.columbiabasin.edu/i-am/current-hawk/student-resources/lactation-rooms/index.html.