Posted on July 31, 2013 Issues: Education & Title IX Pregnant & Parenting Students

(Washington, D.C.) The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) today filed an administrative complaint against Logan College of Chiropractic/University Programs for violating Title IX—the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education—by maintaining an attendance policy that fails to excuse students for pregnancy-related absences or allow work missed during such absences to be made up. 

The complaint, filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s regional Office for Civil Rights in Chicago, documents the discrimination experienced by a pregnant graduate student, Brandi Kostal, in the spring 2013 term at Logan College’s chiropractic program.  Kostal had pregnancy complications that required an emergency Caesarean section, forcing her to miss some classes and assignments.  She immediately alerted her professors and the Dean of Student Services, who told her that Logan’s policy was not to excuse absences related to pregnancy or childbirth, and that she had the option to withdraw from her doctorate-level classes, be penalized for missing classes, or return to school immediately.  Additionally, a professor who taught Kostal’s two masters-level classes would not give her incompletes so she could take the midterms and final exams for those classes post-recovery from childbirth. 

Eleven days after her emergency Caesarean delivery, Kostal returned to classes—before she had fully recovered—in an effort to avoid being penalized for missing classes. She became extremely rundown both physically and mentally.  In order to drive to school safely, Kostal had to stop taking her pain medications.  At school she had to sit or stand for long periods of time without proper rest or medication.  Kostal stopped breastfeeding her daughter when she was only 11 days old because of her long class schedule.  Kostal received failing grades in two masters-level courses, lost tuition money and is currently behind in achieving her masters and doctorate degrees scheduled for spring 2014.  Before her hospitalization, Kostal had an “A” average in one of those classes and a “B” average in the other. 

“My academic future has suddenly been threatened and since I have a family to support, there’s a lot at stake,” said Kostal.  “I’ve always been goal-oriented, but having two children has made me work even harder to achieve a secure future for my family.  It shocked me that I was penalized for being pregnant.  I realize now that I’m probably not alone.  How many other pregnant students are being pressured to drop courses when they simply need to make up missed work?”

“Pregnant students face an uphill battle every day,” said Fatima Goss Graves, NWLC’s Vice President of Education and Employment. “They’re juggling academic workloads, the rigorous demands of caring for children and the financial pressures of student loans and child care.  It’s critical that schools meet their obligations under Title IX and not create barriers that prevent students from getting the education they need to position themselves in our competitive economy.”

The complaint requests that the regional Office for Civil Rights in Chicago take all necessary steps to remedy any unlawful conduct identified in its investigation, require Logan to adopt a policy regarding its legal obligations to pregnant and parenting students and train faculty accordingly, monitor any resulting agreements with Logan to ensure compliance with Title IX,  remove the “F’s” from Kostal’s academic record, and allow her to complete those classes at no additional cost so she can graduate on time.

 

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For more resources on Title IX and how the law protects pregnant and parenting students, visit www.nwlc.org/pregnantandparentingstudents.

NWLC Title IX experts are available for comment.  If you are interested in interviewing student Brandi Kostal, please contact Maria Patrick at [email protected] or 202-319-3021.

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