LA School’s Appalling Policy on Student Pregnancy


The ACLU is demanding that a public charter school in Delhi, Louisiana immediately rescind an appalling policy that requires female students they suspect of being pregnant to take a mandatory pregnancy test or be expelled or forced to be home schooled.

In a Louisiana public school, female students who are suspected of being pregnant are told that they must take a pregnancy test. Under school policy, those who are pregnant or refuse to take the test are kicked out and forced to undergo home schooling.

Welcome to Delhi Charter School, in Delhi, Louisiana, a school of 600 students that does not believe its female students have a right to education free from discrimination. According to its Student Pregnancy Policy, the school has a right to not only force testing upon girls, but to send them to a physician of the school administration’s choice. A positive test result, or failure to take the test at all, means administrators can forbid a girl from taking classes and force her to pursue a course of home study if she wishes to continue her education with the school.

This is in blatant violation of federal law and the U.S. Constitution.

Today, the ACLU of Louisiana and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project asked Delhi Charter School to immediately suspend this discriminatory and illegal policy.

The policy’s complete disregard for Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities, is astonishing. Title IX and its regulations explicitly mandate that schools cannot exclude any student from an education program or activity, “including any class or extracurricular activity, on the basis of such student’s pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy or recovery therefrom.”

Incredible.

Comments

  1. gshelley says

    No idea why they thought this would be constitutional, but it seems they aren’t even going to be allowed to decide for themselves
    http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/48554183/ns/today-back_to_school/#.UCURXvW8opB

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana brought attention to the policy on Monday, calling on the school to drop the rule or face legal action. By Tuesday evening, state officials agreed that the policy violated federal law.

    “We are requiring an immediate change to the policy,” the Louisiana State Department of Education said in a statement Tuesday night.

    A letter dated Monday from Michael Higgins, director of law and policy in the Louisiana office of school choice, to the school says it has until Aug. 16 to provide documentation showing a change in policy. In the letter, released to TODAY.com Tuesday evening, the state asks for a policy that “does not discriminate against pregnant students or students perceived to be pregnant” and says that “under no circumstances shall the school require any student to take a pregnancy test.”

  2. MikeMa says

    I read in some account that this had been going on for a number of years without being challenged.

    How is that possible?
    a) No pregnancies?
    b) No spines?
    c) Belief that the discriminatory system works?
    d) Breaking federal law in LA is not a real crime?

  3. mithandir says

    If true, that’s one of the most vile things I’ve read all day, and I’ve been catching up on my blogreading today.

    The misogyny is just overwhelming.

    I’ve been getting more and more annoyed at the inherent and casual misogyny that seems to be way too common these days. Policies like this are so clearly made by people who think women have no right to decide things themselves. It’s so crass that it feels like they can’t even understand that anybody would object.

    And here I was already being appalled at the “mother day gifts” suggested by the ads in my mailbox that seem to have a view of womanhood more appropriate for 1912 than for 2012 … how depressing.

  4. Ben P says

    The high school I attended (admittedly a private church of christ high school) would expel female students who got pregnant (under a clause of the student handbook relating to “good moral conduct” or something). But I don’t think even they ever would have compelled a test. The two times I was aware of that occuring, the pregnancy was widely known.

    And before anyone asks, no, I don’t think the school ever made any effort to find out if the fathers were also students. Although there were instances of male students being expelled under the same “morals” clause for alleged off campus conduct .

  5. Chiroptera says

    When I was in Tanzania for a while, Ministry of Education regulations mandated yearly pregnancy tests for female students and expelled those who were pregnant.

    There was one case where the tests at the school at which I was teaching were delayed until about a month before the end of the academic year. Sure enough, a last year student, just one month before graduation and getting her diploma, tested positive and was expelled. Pretty outrageous.

    Funny thing was, that was for the mainland schools. I was told that in Muslim dominated Zanzibar, who had their own Ministry of Education and their own regulations, either pregnant girls were not expelled or were allowed to continue their education after giving birth (I forget which).

  6. dogmeat says

    This is just another in a long list of the horrific failures of charter schools. Public school administrators are often idiots who do stupid, unconstitutional things, but fortunately there are attorneys who work for districts and safeguards in place intended to override an administrator’s innate idiocy. In the case of many charter schools, to avoid “wasting” money, they don’t bother with legal counsel, or qualified administrators, or bother to check the legal statutes when implementing policies. I’ve seen student transcripts where the kids had zero credits that could be transferred because their “school” didn’t bother to even look up the appropriate state standards for the content area. I’ve looked at charter schools where the principal didn’t even have the credentials necessary to teach in a public school but was in charge of the charter school. I saw another one where none of the “faculty,” from the teachers through the administrators, had more than an associate’s degree. There are rumors here in AZ that the state board of education threw out the writing scores in their school rating system because the results made the charter schools look bad.

    But hey, charter and voucher “schools” are the way to improve education.

  7. thalwen says

    They’ve apparently revoked the policy, surely due to the inevitability of losing a lawsuit and the outrage from the rest of the country.
    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/08/09/dehli-charter-school-will-no-longer-kick-pregnant-or-possibly-pregnant-students-o

    Still, the idea that someone would even think up something like this in 2012 is shocking. How much do you have to hate women to even think this is a good idea, much less to put it into an official policy.

  8. says

    It isn’t just the misogyny, it’s the fact that they are so casual about education, they fail to see how damaging that dismissal is to those very fragile young women at a terribly vulnerable time in their lives. Most of them will never go back to school, dooming them to a life of poverty and for many, early death because of a lack of proper nutrition, medical care and due to possible abuse.

    Their failure to address the issue of who the father is reflects a lack of understanding or caring about the situations involved, as to whether the pregnancy may be due to abuse or rape and thus, a lack of action to bring the perpetrators to justice.

    This policy is so short sighted as to be akin to abuse itself.

  9. unbound says

    @gshelly – “No idea why they thought this would be constitutional..”

    Having served on a couple of boards in my community, I’ve found that many of my fellow board members are rather clueless in regards to matters of law. Several I know seem to be on power trips believing that they can do whatever they wanted to do regardless of legal issues, bylaws, or basic common sense. It would take a very, very long post to describe all the arguments that I got into to prevent very stupid events from occurring during my tenure.

    From my experiences, it appears that less than 1/2 of the people that sit on these boards are well educated people and would certainly explain some of the stupidity we see occur on a regular basis (such as this LA school’s policy).

  10. blf says

    Following thalwen’s link@8, we get this great exchange:

    School President Alan Christman claimed the policy was in place to “protect” pregnant students from harassment and ridicule. ACLU executive Director Majorie Esman responded via statement that that is the school’s issue, not the student’s.

    “If students at Delhi are being harassed, the school’s responsibility is to protect them while ensuring their education. The problem lies with the harasser, not the victim, and it’s wrong for schools to kick students out for reasons that have nothing to do with their education.”

    Gold Medal for calling a Lying Arsehole a Lying Arsehole?

  11. Abby Normal says

    I suspect that the policy of expulsion was what they settled for when informed that stoning was not an option.

  12. cptdoom says

    @5 Ben P:
    My Catholic High School had the same policy, but explicitly refused to expel the fathers of the children because a) the girl should be the one to say no and b) you can’t really trust a “girl like that” when she makes a claim about paternity anyway. This included a case where a boy impregnated both his girlfriend and her younger sister, even though there were concerns the younger girl had not consented (IIRC he got her tipsy, if not outright drunk). When my mother found this out, she was appalled and would have liked to withdraw both my sister and I, but it was the only option for a decent education in our area. The public high schools were so bad that none of the public school teachers, which included my mother – who taught elementary school – would send their kids. My mother retaliated by later helping my cousin disguise her pregnancy so she could graduate.

  13. ellenabbott says

    typical. punish the girl that gets pregnant but pat the boy on the back that impregnates her.

  14. says

    abb3w “Perhaps even more incredible: Fox News seemed outraged over the policy.”
    “Well, this is clearly illegal because it violates the right to privacy. …you and your doctor… …etc” ~ Andrew Napolitano

    I’m just highlighting that for the next time the subjects of abortion or contraception come up.

  15. kennew142 says

    I most often agree with you on economic matters, but your incessant bashing of charter schools is really tiresome. For every example of bad charter schools, I can find just as many egregious examples from traditional public schools. Are there bad charter schools? Sure. Are there bad traditional schools? Sure.

    Here in Tucson, Basis (charter) and University High (traditional – kind of) are both in the top 10 high schools in the nation. The charter school I teach at received an A grade from the state. In our middle school, nearly half of the students exceeded expectations on the AIMS in writing. Almost as many did so in Math, even more in Science.

    We follow all the state standards. We aren’t allowed by law to turn down students and we have a higher percentage of students on free and reduced lunch, and on IEPs than the average school in Tucson. We do all of this on less money than the traditional schools.

    You obviously have a bone to pick, and choose to do it by continuous assault on an entire group of hard working professionals who are dedicated to educating our young. What a bigot, you must be to paint with such a large brush.

    If you need to attack bad charter schools, by all means do so. But try not to show your ignorance every time the subject of education comes up.

  16. dogmeat says

    I’m rather busy kennew142, so bear with me if I don’t reply promptly. My schedule has been rather hectic for about a year now which is why my commenting on Dispatches has been hit-and-miss and greatly reduced overall.

    I most often agree with you on economic matters, but your incessant bashing of charter schools is really tiresome. For every example of bad charter schools, I can find just as many egregious examples from traditional public schools. Are there bad charter schools? Sure. Are there bad traditional schools? Sure.

    I appreciate that you are upset by my comment, but please point out where I ever said or even implied that there weren’t bad public/traditional schools? Your argument here does nothing to negate my point. I don’t really care if you are tired of my incessant bashing of charter schools, frankly I’m rather tired of the incessant bashing of public schools. Also, exposing the very serious flaws in the overall charter system is the only way anything will be done to fix the system. Much like ignoring problems in the public school system wont accomplish anything, ignoring the problems, rather glaring problems, in the charter and voucher school programs wont accomplish anything.

    Here in Tucson, Basis (charter) and University High (traditional – kind of) are both in the top 10 high schools in the nation. The charter school I teach at received an A grade from the state. In our middle school, nearly half of the students exceeded expectations on the AIMS in writing. Almost as many did so in Math, even more in Science.

    That’s nice, but again, where are you providing any evidence to refute my comment? Also, why is it charter school advocates always seem to switch to case study examples to argue that charter schools work while they lump public/traditional schools together and universally slam them as “failing?” If one in ten charter schools, or two in ten (which is actually the number) are successful, doesn’t that accurately point out that 80% of the charter schools aren’t successful? If only 34% of charter school students are passing the standardized state mandated tests but 78% of the public/traditional school students are passing those same tests, doesn’t that imply a serious problem with charter schools?

    Also I love how you point out that University High is “kind of” traditional while at the same time ignoring that Basis also screens its applicants in a manner quite similar to UHS. Both schools are college prep schools that require their students to take an entry exam, enroll in AP classes, and generally avoid the average and below average kids. They then work with those kids in class sizes generally 40-50% smaller than the average class size and *gasp* they are somehow successful!?!?!?! Who’da thought?

    The charter school I teach at received an A grade from the state. In our middle school, nearly half of the students exceeded expectations on the AIMS in writing. Almost as many did so in Math, even more in Science.

    That’s nice, you should be proud. Again, how does that in any way refute what I said? I never said that there weren’t charter schools that were successful, I said that there is a “long list of horrific charter school failures,” and that I was personally aware of a number of egregious administrative and management problems with local charter schools. Given that most charter school administrators lack the credentials of public school administrators and most charter school teachers fall far below the credentials of public school teachers, examples of a few successes doesn’t negate the fundamental argument that the charter (and voucher) school movement has failed far more than it has succeeded.

    Here in AZ in ’05 charter school kids were passing AIMS at a rate less than half the norm for public school kids. In ’08 the state reported that not much had changed and that “charter school kids were still far behind” in academic areas. The best that could be said at that time by charter school advocates was that it was “a work in progress.” In ’10 it was reported, yet again, that charter schools were well below the state averages in standardized tests. This year, last month, the state started looking into shutting down the charter schools that were still failing (something they’ve been doing with public schools for years). What makes this so bad is that while it is well known that the majority of charter schools are as bad or worse than the worst public schools, 80% was the last figure I saw with 60% flatly defined as worse, they’ve been protected for years while similarly shoddy public schools have been subject to shutdowns that lead many of these kids to move to charter schools that are as bad or worse than the school the kids left. That isn’t “choice” that’s a shell game where the only people who win are those who own/administer the charter schools and the kids who are losing will likely never recover. That’s what pisses me off about charter schools.

    We follow all the state standards. We aren’t allowed by law to turn down students and we have a higher percentage of students on free and reduced lunch, and on IEPs than the average school in Tucson. We do all of this on less money than the traditional schools.

    That’s nice, what’s your point? It still doesn’t refute my fundamental argument about charter schools. You follow state standards? You say that like it’s some great revelation, shouldn’t you follow state standards? What is your spec’ ed population? Also, what data do you have that you get less money than traditional schools? I hear that a lot, problem is, it often isn’t true. Usually the tendency is to point to public school soft capital money and ignore the lump sum given to charter schools. In addition a big chunk of money that goes to public schools is dedicated towards building new schools to meet their growing populations. That brick and mortar spending isn’t directly classroom involved and isn’t something charter schools generally have to do. I believe Basis, when it first started, was actually run out of a store front?

    Also charter schools tend to get more money per student than public schools because the argument is that they can’t pass bond overrides and get additional funding through the local property taxes, this is accurate unless, of course, the district voters refuse to pass bond overrides. A prime example would be Green Valley blocking most of the attempted overrides for the schools in Sahuarita. In general a comparison of charter/voucher/public school funding is far more complicated than charter school advocates like to admit.

    You obviously have a bone to pick, and choose to do it by continuous assault on an entire group of hard working professionals who are dedicated to educating our young. What a bigot, you must be to paint with such a large brush.

    You still haven’t provided any evidence to refute my argument. Instead you throw out a few case study examples that have nothing to do with the greater failures of charter and voucher schools. On top of that you sling a few insults that are rather laughable. I have a bone to pick with substandard education, plain and simple. Kids who go through crappy schools, whether public, charter, or voucher, rarely get a chance to fix the damage done to them. This isn’t an industry like selling a burger, furniture, or a car; you can’t take the kid back and get their education recalled for being a lemon. By the way, one of my friends is a principal at a good charter school, another one of the few good ones in Tucson. Doesn’t change the fact that the majority are terrible.

    If you need to attack bad charter schools, by all means do so. But try not to show your ignorance every time the subject of education comes up.

    *chuckle* This last bit is amusing, gave my wife a good laugh too. Just for your enlightenment, I turned down a position as an administrator at a charter school, in Tucson. I’ve also been an educator in Arizona for the last decade, principal certified for nearly half that, and was a paid consultant for the ADE until budget cuts reduced the number of projects they were doing. But you got me, I don’t know a thing about education … especially not in AZ… *chuckle*

  17. Ichthyic says

    What a bigot, you must be to paint with such a large brush.

    really?

    That must be a new definition of “bigot” I’m unaware of. Interesting use of punctuation as well.

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