Thursday, August 01, 2013

Student Denied Leave for Childbirth Files Complaint Against College

A student at Logan College of Chiropractic/University Programs in Missouri has filed a complaint against the school, alleging that it violated Title IX when it refused to recognize childbirth as an excused absence.  Brandi Kostl emailed her dean from the hospital about anticipated upcoming absences as she was about to undergo an emergency Cesarean section. The dean replied with reference to the college and faculty member's attendance policies, under which childbirth is not excused.  As a result, Kostl returned to school after 11 days, before she was fully healed, in order to minimize the academic penalty against her.  Even still, she ended up receiving an F in two classes. 

Kostl and her attorneys at the National Women's Law Center argue that the college's failure to accommodate her absence for childbirth violates the Department of Education's Title IX regulations, specifically, 34 C.F.R. 106.40(b)(5), which provides:
 a recipient shall treat ...childbirth as a justification for a leave of absence for so long a period as is deemed medically necessary by the student’s physician, at the conclusion of which the student shall be reinstated to the status which she held when the leave began.
NWLC filed a similar complaint earlier this year on behalf of another student who had a similar experience at a CUNY school.  That complaint resulted in a settlement favorable to the student.