As an instructor, academic integrity is of the upmost importance. Pregnant/parenting students should still be held to the same academic standards as other students, and it is through your cooperation with the OTC Title IX office that pregnant/parenting students receive the assistance they need while also being held accountable for their education.

One of the most frequent questions we receive is “At what age does ‘parenting’ support end for an child?” Please report any student who is currently pregnant or has an infant up to 1 month old. Title IX Pregnant & Parenting protections are intended for students who are pregnant, experiencing a pregnancy-related condition (such as a miscarriage) or physically recovering from childbirth. If you are aware of an extenuating circumstance for a student with a baby over the age of 1 month, please submit a report. Even if the Title IX office is not the appropriate support system for the student, we will work with the OTCCares team to ensure that the student receives support through the appropriate office.

 

Faculty have the right to…

  • Request verification of a student’s eligibility for requested accommodations in the form of an Education Plan or Accommodation Letter prepared by professional staff in the Title IX office or Disability Support Service office and delivered by the student, either in person or through e-mail.
  • Deny accommodations if a student does not request accommodations and provide an Education Plan from the Title IX office or Disability Support Services office.
  • Consult with the Title IX office as opposed to arranging accommodations directly with the student without consult.
  • Expect the student to initiate accommodations requests in a timely manner.
  • Expect the student to provide prompt notification of changes to approved accommodations.
  • Uphold academic standards and the integrity of courses and academic programs.
  • Uphold conduct and technical standards of a course or program of study.
  • Deny an accommodation request if it compromises the essential requirements of a course or program. (Please consult with Title IX and/or Disability Support Services.)
  • Collaborate with the student and professional staff regarding recommended accommodations.

DO…

  • Allow pregnant and parenting students to continue participating in class.
  • Allow pregnant and parenting students who miss class(es) to return at the same status as before the absence.
  • Cooperate with pregnant and parenting students to make up any work missed during absences.
  • Protect your students from harassment in your classroom.
  • Seek assistance from the Title IX office to outline special accommodations for pregnant and parenting students.
  • Contact the Title IX Office early when you find out you have a pregnant student in class!

DON’T…

  • Ask pregnant students for doctor’s notes to explain absences or participate in class unless you ask for doctor’s notes from all students who have medically-necessary absences.
  • Discourage pregnant or parenting students from seeking support through the Title IX office.
  • Pressure pregnant or parenting students to seek accommodations if the student is uninterested.
  • Resist reasonable accommodations requests for students.
  • Wait to contact the Title IX Office—it is best practice to have a plan in place in case the situation changes.
  • Create rules or assignments that will unfairly impact pregnant or parenting students.

Am I required to excuse absences if my class/program has specific attendance requirements that are detailed in the syllabus?

Yes. OTC receives federal financial aid; therefore, it is bound by Title IX. Individual teachers may not discriminate against pregnant students through attendance policies and practices. For example, you may not refuse to allow a student to submit work after a deadline that she missed because of absences due to pregnancy or childbirth. Additionally, if your grading is based in part on class attendance or participation, the student should be allowed to earn the credits she missed so that she can be reinstated to the status she had before the leave.

Keep in mind that there may be some state-mandated or outside agency-mandated requirements that will limit absences for pregnant students. If this is the case in your course or program, please consult with the Title IX office for guidance at titleix@otc.edu or 417-447-2686.

New mothers are given leave time until released by a doctor or up to two weeks after the child arrives, whichever comes first. This can be extended if medically necessary.

Can I require a doctor's note to excuse an absence for a pregnant student/new parent?

You cannot require a pregnant student to submit a doctor’s note unless the same requirement to obtain a doctor’s note applies to all students in your classes who are being treated by a doctor. That is, you may not treat a pregnant student differently from other students being cared for by a doctor, even when a student is in the later stages of pregnancy. You should also refrain from requiring a doctor’s note to allow a student to participate in class or other activities. Do not presume that a pregnant student is unable to participate fully.

Can I require a pregnant student to skip an activity if I think it will be unsafe for her?

No. You should not presume that a pregnant student is unable to attend school or participate in school activities. Our job is to inform students of any foreseeable issues, but we leave decision-making to the student and her doctor.

What are the consequences if I am not compliant with Title IX requirements?

A student may file a complaint with the Title IX office or the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) division of the Department of Education. If a claim is found to be substantiated after an investigation, sanctions will be applied, which could include loss of employment at OTC.

What should I do if I do not know how to accommodate a pregnant student in my class?

The Title IX office is happy to work with you to develop a plan! Depending on the nature of the student’s accommodation request, the Disability Support Services team may also be asked to join the conversation. You may reach the Title IX office by email at titleix@otc.edu, or by phone at 417-447-2686.

If there is a clearly-stated policy on make-up/late work in my class, am I still required to be flexible with pregnant students/new parents?

Yes. As with attendance requirements, Title IX requires flexibility for absences or emergencies related to a student’s pregnancy. There may be state-mandated or outside agency-mandated requirements that will limit your flexibility with students. Please contact the Title IX office at titleix@otc.edu or 417447-2686 if you have any questions.

If a student tells me she is pregnant, am I required to complete a report? Where should I make the report?

Yes. Please compete a report at your earliest convenience after learning of a student’s pregnancy. You may complete a report online through the OTC Cares page.

Can a new baby qualify a student for an incomplete grade?

Yes. Please consult with the Dean of Academic Services regarding requirements for incomplete grades. Additional latitude may be given to pregnant students/new parents, but students must keep you and the Title IX office informed of extenuating circumstances. Retroactive remedial measures are not always possible.

In my conversations with faculty, I have learned that there is no “one-size-fits-all” for supporting pregnant/parenting students. Below are some of things you might consider when looking for ways to accommodate your students. If you have a creative solution to a pregnant/parenting situation, please let me know!

Things you might consider to keep a student engaged in a seated class:

  • Encourage the student to connect with at least two classmates (in case one is absent) who could be potential note-takers or study partners.
  • Consider ways to allow the student to be “present” when not physically present:
    • FaceTime with another student or yourself throughout class.
    • Set up a Zoom meeting (there is even an app for Zoom).
    • Use Skype or some other form of video communication.
  • If you try any of the above:
    • Consider the student’s privacy. They probably don’t want to be projected at the front of the room.
    • Think about your class as well. Do not allow this to be a class disruption.
    • Make sure you have the student “muted” if necessary to block out background noise.
  • Remember that the student could need lactation breaks after returning to class.
    • Consider an alternative space to the lactation rooms at your campus/education center if possible.
      • Would you allow the student to use your office?
      • Is there another place (please, no restrooms!) that might work?
    • The Springfield lactation room is in ICW 201. Please contact the Student Services office at other locations to find the lactation space.

After the baby arrives (considerations for ANY class):

  • Consider setting specific deadlines for each missed assignment/exam to keep the student on track.
  • Consider developing a new deadline schedule for at least the first month after the baby’s arrival.
    • You are welcome to use the template in the “Resources” tab of this webpage.
    • Feel free to share the new timeline with me, and hold the accountable!

Other examples of creative solutions:

  • If a student misses an exam that cannot be made up:  Use the portion of the final that covers the material from the missed exam to replace the exam grade.
  • Allow the student to work ahead in class. This can also mean taking the final early.
  • If a student has no chance of completing the course:  Encourage the student to re-take the class with you, and allow them to use all of the work they have already completed (as long as it is still relevant).
  • If a student will not be able to make it to the final OR take an incomplete grade (for example, a student on strict bed-rest):  Consider providing an alternate assignment or doubling a previous exam score.