A charter school in northeast Louisiana has changed a policy which barred pregnant students from class and required them to be home-schooled.
Delhi Charter School required students who were suspected of being pregnant to take a pregnancy test, and could even select the physician for the student. If the student refused the test or tested positive, “the student will not be permitted to attend classes on the campus of Delhi Charter School…and will be required to pursue a course of home study.”
The American Civil Liberties Union said the policy violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Equal Protection Clause, which requires equal opportunities for both sexes. Male students who were expecting children or who had children were not required to change their course of study.
The school changed its policy after receiving a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Albert Christman, Delhi Charter School President, said the policy was intended to protect students from ridicule and harassment.
“Blaming the victim is never the appropriate response to misconduct,” Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, said in a statement. “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.”
Tiseme Zegeye, spokesperson for the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, said new revisions to the policy meet the minimum requirements of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Under the new policy, pregnant students have the option to remain in class or voluntarily choose homeschooling. If the pregnant student chooses homeschooling, they can return class after giving birth.
“We think it’s a large improvement based on how egregious the policy was,” Zegeye told the AFRO. “We think the old policy was based on outdated stereotypes of girls and what their place should be- the idea that pregnant women should not be in the workplace and pregnant girls should not be in school; they should be at home.”
Zegeye expressed concern over a clause in the new policy that absolves Delhi Charter from all medical liability should there be complication with a student’s pregnancy while they remain in school. However, she does not believe the clause will cause any problem because it is not legally enforceable. The policy revisions are pending board approval.
Delhi Carter School is one of the best performing schools in Louisiana’s Richland Parish, and has approximately 600 students ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade. Delhi Charter School’s student population is 87 percent White and 10 percent Black, while the population of Delhi, La. is overwhelmingly Black.
Classes begin at Delhi Charter School on Aug. 15.