Pregnancy and Parenting Students



Title IX prohibits educational institutions from discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery from related conditions. Under Title IX, a school must excuse a student’s absences due to pregnancy or childbirth for as long as the student’s doctor deems the absences medically necessary.  A pregnant student may request a withdrawal from classes without penalty for as long as it is deemed medically necessary and must be allowed to return to the same academic and extracurricular status upon her return.  Students who need accommodation for their pregnancy or pregnancy related-condition should notify the Office of Title IX and the Office of Student Accessibility and Testing Services. 

 Students are encouraged to work with their professors and the university’s support systems to devise a plan for how to best address the conditions as the pregnancy progresses, anticipate the need for leaves, and minimize the academic impact of their absence. If, for any reason, caretaking/parenting students are not able to work with their faculty members to obtain appropriate modifications, students should alert the Office of Student Accessibility and Testing Services and the Office of Title IX as soon as possible, and the office will help facilitate needed accommodations.

 If you have any questions regarding a student’s rights as a pregnant or parenting student, please contact the Office of Title IX at (252)335-3907 or 

Below are some frequently asked questions to assist students and faculty members regarding Title IX rights:

How can I use Title IX to ensure that my pregnancy or family responsibilities do not interfere with my education?

Title IX requires professors and administrators to treat pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions in the same manner as any other temporary disability. Pregnant students must be provided the same accommodations and support services available to other students with similar medical needs.  Your professors or administrators should not tell you that you have to drop out of your classes or academic program or change educational plans due to your pregnancy.  If you have a concern regarding your status as a pregnant or parenting student at ECSU, please contact the Office of Student Accessibility and Testing Services and/or the Office of Title IX.

 Do my professors have to excuse my absences due to pregnancy, childbirth, adoption, or abortion?

Your professors must excuse your absences due to pregnancy and related conditions.  This includes labor, delivery, and recovery, as well as prenatal and postpartum appointments and adoption.  Professors must provide a leave of absence for as long as it is deemed necessary by your medical provider.  At the end of your leave, you must be reinstated to the status you held prior to your leave.  After returning from an excused absence, your professors must allow a reasonable amount of time to make up missed assignments and tests.  The makeup assignments and tests must be reasonably equivalent to those missed, but need not be identical.  If a professor provides specific “points” or other advantages to students based on class attendance, you must be given the opportunity to earn the credit from classes missed due to pregnancy or related conditions. 

As a faculty member, must I provide accommodations for pregnant students?

Yes, students affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions are eligible for at least the same accommodations given to students with temporary disabilities. Accommodations range from providing more accessible desks to establishing home study programs. You must engage in an interactive discussion with the student regarding any accommodation requests she makes. Depending upon the student’s condition, their right to accommodations will be legally protected under Title IX and/or possibly also under the ADA.  For assistance in managing an accommodation request, contact your school’s Office of Student Accessibility and Testing Services and/or Office of Title IX.

 What if my professors say their absence/make-up policy applies regardless of any medical condition?

While your professor may have a strict attendance policy, the university is bound by federal civil rights law.  Title IX requires the university ensure that all faculty and staff comply with the law and do not discriminate against pregnant and parenting students.  An individual professor’s policy is not acceptable if it breaks the law.  Please contact the Office of Title IX if you have questions about your professor’s attendance policy as it relates to your pregnancy or parental responsibilities.

How do I seek an accommodation?

Step 1: Identify what you need

If you are faced with a challenging condition, remember that your symptoms and needs are not always apparent to professors and school administrators. The first step is to think about your condition, and the ways that the institution can accommodate you so that you can continue your studies.

Step 2: Ask for assistance

Ask for assistance from the Office of Student Accessibility and Testing Services-117 CW Griffin Hall; (252) 335-3273 and/or Office of Title IX-130 CW Griffin Hall ; (252) 335-3907 or (252) 368-6406.

Step 3: Documentation

The Office of Student Accessibility and Testing Services and/or the Office of Title IX may ask for documentation of your medical needs. You may be asked to submit a doctor’s note identifying your condition and related limitations, or in some cases you may need records relating to your condition. You do not have to provide medical information to a professor directly—your school’s disability support office has officials who are specially trained and will keep your information private. If your professor asks you for private health information that you do not feel comfortable disclosing, tell them politely that you have provided the necessary information to the disability office.

 Step 4: Work with your school to identify appropriate accommodations

ECSU must consider your request for accommodation in good faith. You and the designated office must be willing to engage in an interactive process to determine the best way to accommodate your pregnancy‐ related disability. You may need to have several discussions to determine an appropriate accommodation.

The accommodation you receive must be tailored to your specific needs and give you an opportunity to succeed in the program that is equal to the opportunity given to other students. However, ECSU is not required to offer an accommodation that would be “unreasonable” because it causes significant administrative or financial burden.

Step 5: Accommodations granted

If your school required you to seek accommodations through the Office of Student Accessibility and Testing Services and/or the Office of Title IX, the office will work in collaboration with the Office of Academic Affairs.  The Office of Academic Affairs will work with the professor’s Department Chairpersons to determine reasonable accommodations for students on a case-by-case basis.   

 Additional Resources

U.S. Department of Education-Office of Civil Rights


National Women’s Law Center