Necessary or Too Much? Louisiana School Expels Girls for Pregnancy

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Teen PregnancyDelhi Charter School in Louisiana is not taking the state’s sixth highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation lying down, and the ACLU is standing up and paying attention to what they say is a “blatant violation of federal law and the U.S. Constitution, reports the Huffington Post.

According to the school’s policy, a girl suspected of being pregnant will be asked to take a pregnancy test. If she refuses or the test result is positive, she will either be forced to transfer to another school or take classes at home. From the student handbook:

If an administrator or teacher suspects a student is pregnant, a parent conference will be held. The school reserves the right to require any female student to take a pregnancy test to confirm whether or not the suspected student is in fact pregnant. The school further reserves the right to refer the suspected student to a physician of its choice. If the test indicates that the student is pregnant, the student will not be permitted to attend classes on the campus of Delhi Charter School.If a student is determined to be pregnant and wishes to continue to attend Delhi Charter School, the student will be required to pursue a course of home study that will be provided by the school… Any student who is suspected of being pregnant and who refuses to submit to a pregnancy test shall be treated as a pregnant student and will be offered home study opportunities. If home study opportunities are not acceptable, the student will be counseled to seek other educational opportunities.

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The ACLU is demanding that the school immediately suspend the policy because it is in violation of Title IX, which states “schools cannot be excluded from “any class or extracurricular activity, on the basis of such student’s pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy or recovery therefrom.”

The Huffington Post reports:

The school also notes in its handbook that it reserves the right to send girls suspected of being pregnant to a physician of the school’s choice. Various other policies in the 216-page manual permit “reasonable corporal punishment of unruly students,” defined as “paddling of the student’s buttocks,” and prohibition of public displays of affection because they “show disdain for good taste.” According to the handbook, PDA include, but are not limited to “holding hands on school premises, hugging, kissing, leaning against each other and sitting in each others’ laps.”

In a letter to Delhi school officials Aug. 6, ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director points out that school policies also violate the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment “by imposing an irrebuttable presumption that pregnant students are unable to continue to attend classes” and “raises serious concerns of vagueness in violation of the First Amendment.”

Delhi’s school policies are surfacing as the education gap between teen moms and those who didn’t have a teen birth grows. According to a 2010 report by nonprofit research center Child Trends, 51 percent of teen mothers have a high school diploma, compared with 89 percent of women who were not teen mothers. For teens who give birth before the age of 18, their likelihood of graduating high school is even lower — just 38 percent have a diploma.

According to recently released data from the CDC, teen pregnancy rates have dropped more than 44% from 1991 to 2010. Even with this record low, it is still 9 times higher than other developed countries. Pregnant teens also face additional health risks for mother and child, are more likely to have another child within 2 years, sons of teen mothers are more likely to go to prison, and teen mothers are more likely to not further their education and commit suicide.

Do you think Delhi School is trying to do its part to stop the avalanche of teen pregnancy or is it over-reaching its authority? Our vote would be the latter, especially when there has been no mention of expelling the boys who more than had a role in the pregnancies that, if Delhi had its way, would literally force a young girl into hiding.

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