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U.S. Dept. of Education rules SLCC violated rights of pregnant student

Jun 14, 2022, 3:38 PM

Image of Salt Lake Community College, where a body was found on Wednesday....

FILE: Salt Lake Community College in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 19, 2021. Photo credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has determined that Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) violated both Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The decision came after a student at SLCC had accused the school of pregnancy discrimination.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, SLCC encouraged a pregnant student to drop a course because she was pregnant. The OCR found that the school did not attempt to provide the student with academic adjustments or necessary services during her pregnancy. Furthermore, the OCR found that SLCC did not exempt pregnancy-related absences or work that was completed late due to those absences. 

The ORC found that SLCC violated Title IX regulations by failing to respond punctually to the student’s pregnancy discrimination complaint. Secondly, the ORC said the school failed to speak with the student for appropriate special services and/or academic adjustments. Third, the school did not excuse absences related to her pregnancy. Also, the college failed to provide an opportunity or alternative to make up missed work. 

Lastly, according to the ORC, the college violated Section 504 regulations by failing to discuss the possibility that her pregnancy caused a temporary disability. If that had been the case, the student would have required academic adjustments under the law.

“We look forward to working with Salt Lake Community College to promote a nondiscriminatory educational environment by ensuring pregnant students’ equal access to the college’s offerings,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Catherine E. Lhamon.

SLCC commitments in the resolution agreement

 According to the ORC, SLCC has committed to doing the following: 

  • revising its non-discrimination notice and grievance procedures to comply with Title IX;
  • publishing information on its website for pregnant students about their Title IX rights and how to seek academic adjustments, special services, or excused absences;
  • training its Title IX coordinator, Disabilities Resource Center staff, and other school employees regarding Title IX’s and Section 504’s protections for pregnant students and the academic adjustments and special services available to pregnant students;
  • completing and documenting its investigation of the student’s complaint of pregnancy discrimination; and
  • taking other measures to remedy the discrimination against the student.

The resolution agreement signed by the OCR and SLCC to resolve the pregnancy-related violations can be found here.

Additionally, the letter to Salt Lake City Community College from ORC can be found here

SLCC says its taking steps to ensure reasonable accommodation moving forward

In a statement, officials of Salt Lake Community College said they take complaints regarding discrimination seriously.

“We are working with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to address this complaint and taking concrete steps to ensure reasonable accommodations are made moving forward,” said Assistant Director of Public Relations at SLCC, Peta Owens-Liston.

SLCC officials said they intend to strengthen internal processes related to investigating complaints, improve student access to Title IX information, and to better evaluate and fulfill requests for pregnancy accommodation.

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U.S. Dept. of Education rules SLCC violated rights of pregnant student