Bowie State University is committed to creating and maintaining a community where all individuals enjoy freedom from discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sex, as mandated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX). Sex discrimination, including discrimination based on pregnancy, marital status, or parental status, is prohibited and illegal in admissions, educational programs and activities, hiring, leave policies, employment policies, and health insurance coverage. Bowie State University hereby establishes a policy and associated procedures for ensuring the protection and equal treatment of pregnant individuals, person with pregnancy-related conditions, and new parents.
Under the Department of Education’s (DOE) Title IX regulations, an institution that receives federal funding “shall not discriminate against any student, or exclude any student from its education program or activity, including any class or extracurricular activity, on the basis of such student’s pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery therefrom.” According to the DOE, appropriate treatment of a pregnant student includes granting the student leave “for so long a period of time as is deemed medically necessary by the student’s physician,” and then effectively reinstating the student to the same status as was held when the leave began.
This generally means that Bowie State University should treat its pregnant students seeking assistance pursuant to this policy as it would persons who have a temporary disability. Wherever possible, an opportunity to complete missed work, extended deadlines, make-up assignments (e.g., papers, quizzes, tests, and presentations), tutoring, independent study, online course completion options, and incomplete grades that can be completed within the semester following the student’s return to campus, should all be employed, in addition to any other ergonomic and assistive supports typically provided by Disability Support Services. To the extent possible, Bowie State University will take reasonable steps to ensure that pregnant students who take a leave of absence or medical leave return to the same position of academic progress that they were in when they took leave, including access to the same course catalog that was in place when the leave began. The Title IX Coordinator has the authority to determine that such accommodations are necessary and appropriate, and to inform faculty members of the need to adjust academic parameters accordingly.
As with disability accommodations, information about pregnant students’ request for accommodations will be shared with faculty and staff only to the extent necessary to provide the reasonable accommodation. Faculty and staff will regard all information associated with such requests as private and will not disclose thins information unless necessary. Administrative responsibility for these accommodations lies with the Title IX Coordinator, who will maintain all appropriate documentation related to accommodations.
In situations such as clinical rotations, performances, labs, and group work, the institution will work with the student to devise an alternative path to completion, if possible. In progressive curricular and/or cohort-model programs, medically necessary leaves are sufficient cause to permit the student to shift course order, substitute similar courses, or join a subsequent cohort when retuning from leave. This policy neither presumes, nor does Title IX require, that a student be allowed to re-enter their former cohort notwithstanding their absence from and inability to complete the work as scheduled for progression.
Students are encouraged to work with their faculty members and Bowie State University’s support systems to devise a plan for how best to address the conditions as pregnancy progresses, anticipate the need for leaves, minimize the academic impact of their absence, and get back on track as efficiently and comfortably as possible. The Title IX Coordinator will assist with plan development and implementation as needed.
APPLICABILITYThis policy applies to all aspects of Bowie State University’s programs, including, but not limited to, admissions, educational programs and activities, extracurricular activities, hiring, leave policies, employment policies, and health insurance coverage.
- Caretaking: caring for and providing for the needs of a child.
- Medical Necessity: a determination made by a health care provider (of the student’s choosing) that a certain course of action is in the patient’s best health interests.
- Parenting: the raising of a child by the child’s parents in the reasonably immediate post-partum, adoption, or foster period.
- Pregnancy and Pregnancy-Related Conditions: include (but are not limited to) pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, conditions arising in connection with pregnancy, and recovery from any of these conditions.
- Pregnancy Discrimination: includes treating an individual affected by pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition less favorably than similar individuals not so affected, and incudes a failure to provide legally mandated leave or accommodations.
- Pregnant Student/Birth-Parent: refers to the student who is pregnant or recently gave birth. This policy and its pregnancy-related protections apply to all pregnant persons, regardless of gender identity or expression.
- New Parents: those parenting children through adoption, natural birth, or fostering, during the first 12 months of the child’s natural born life and/ or establishment of the legal relationship.
- Essential Elements of an Academic Program: those skills, knowledge, principles, and concepts that a student must demonstrate, with or without accommodations, to achieve the required outcomes of a course as determined by the program or external credentialing body.
- Reasonable accommodations: (for the purposes of this policy) refer to changes in the academic environment or typical operations that enables pregnant students, students with pregnancy-related conditions, or students who establish a legal parenting relationship to continue to pursue their studies and enjoy the equal benefits of Bowie State University.
REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION OF STUDENTS AFFECTED BY PREGNANCY, CHILDBIRTH, OR RELATED CONDITIONS
- Bowie State University and its faculty, staff, and other employees will not require students to limit their studies as the result of pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions.
- The benefits and services provided to students affected by pregnancy will be no less than those provided to students with temporary medical conditions.
- Students with pregnancy-related disabilities, like any student with a short-term or temporary disability, are entitled to reasonable accommodations so that they will not be disadvantaged in their courses of study or research, and may seek assistance from the Title IX Office.
- No artificial deadlines or time limitations are imposed on requests for accommodations, however, Bowie State University is limited in its ability to affect or implement accommodations retroactively. Federal regulations regarding scheduling of financial aid disbursements and refunds, for example, are not within the University’s control or authority to adjust.
- Reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
- Providing accommodations requested by a pregnant student to protect the health and safety of the student and/or the pregnancy (such as allowing the student to maintain a safe distance from hazardous substances);
- Making modifications to the physical environment (such as accessible seating);
- Providing mobility support;
- Extending deadlines and/or allowing the student to make up tests or assignments missed for pregnancy-related absences;
- Offering remote learning options;
- Excusing medically-necessary absences (this must be granted, irrespective of classroom attendance requirements set by a faculty member, department or division);
- Granting leave per Bowie State University’s medical leave policy or implementing incomplete grades for classes that will be resumed at a future date; or
- Allowing breastfeeding students reasonable time and space to pump breast milk in a location that is private, clean, and reasonably accessible. Designated space shall include at least one seating option with a flat surface and electrical outlet nearby to accommodate placement of a breast pump device. Bathroom stalls or closets do not satisfy this requirement.
Nothing in this policy requires modification to the essential elements of any academic program.
The University shall not channel pregnant students under this policy into an alternative program against their wishes. At the student’s request, should the University suspend or eliminate a program of study during their absence pursuant to this policy, the University will make its best effort to accommodate a transfer into a similar course of study that incorporates the completed courses.
MODIFIED ACADEMIC RESPONSIBILITIES FOR PARENTING STUDENTS
- Students with child caretaking/parenting responsibilities who wish to remain engaged in their coursework while adjusting their academic responsibilities because of the birth or adoption of a child or placement of a foster child may request an Academic Modification as described in subsection c of this section. Academic Modification requests are available during the first 12 months from the time the child enters the home, for a period of up to one academic year. When additional time is required by medical necessity or extraordinary caretaking/parenting responsibilities, an extension may be granted.
- Requests for Academic Modifications are reviewed by the Title IX Coordinator, the student’s academic advisor and the appropriate academic department head(s).
During an approved modification period, the student’s academic requirements will be adjusted and deadlines postponed as appropriate.
- Students seeking a period of modified academic responsibilities may consult with their academic advisor or with the Title IX office to determine appropriate academic accommodations requests; nothing in this policy requires modification of the essential elements of any academic program. The Title IX office will communicate all requests under this policy to students’ academic advisors and coordinate accommodation-related efforts with the advisors unless the student specifically requests that their advisors be excluded. The University is aware that Students are encouraged to work with their advisors and faculty members to reschedule course assignments, lab hours, examinations, or other requirements, and/or to reduce their overall course load, as appropriate, once authorization is received from the Title IX office. If, for any reason, caretaking/parenting students are not able to work with their advisors/faculty members to obtain appropriate modifications, students should alert the Title Ix Coordinator as soon as possible. The Title IX Coordinator will help facilitate needed accommodations and modifications.
- In timed degree, certification or credentialing programs, students seeking modifications upon the birth or placement of their child will be allowed an extension of up to 2 consecutive semesters to prepare for and take preliminary and qualifying examinations, and an extension of up to 1 academic year, including summer and winter semesters , toward normative time to degree while in candidacy. Longer extensions may be granted in extenuating circumstances. In either instance, deadline extensions may only be granted to the extent those deadlines are controlled by Bowie State University. If the requested extension is beyond the time allowable by the credentialing body for the program, the University is not at liberty to approve it.
- Students can request modified academic responsibilities under this policy regardless of whether they elect to take a leave of absence.
- While receiving academic modifications, students will remain registered and retain benefits accordingly.
LEAVE OF ABSENCE
As long as students can maintain appropriate academic progress, faculty, staff, or other Bowie State University employees will not require them to take a leave of absence, or withdraw from or limit their studies as the result of pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions, but nothing in this policy requires modification of the essential elements of any academic program.
Enrolled students may elect to take a leave of absence for up to 1 semester period because of pregnancy and/or the birth, adoption, or placement of a child, or as deemed medically necessary by the student’s health care provider.
- Students taking a leave of absence under this policy will provide notice of the intent to take leave 30 calendar days prior to the initiation of leave, or as soon as practicable.
- Intermittent leave may be taken with the advance approval of the Title IX office and students’ academic department(s), when medically necessary.
- Students who elect to take leave under this policy may continue their eligibility for certain benefits. Specifically, students who choose to take a leave of absence under this policy can elect to keep their health insurance coverage and continue residing in the university housing, subject to the payment of applicable fees and pursuant to the University’s prohibition against children in Residence Halls.
- To the extent possible, Bowie State University will take reasonable steps to ensure that upon return from leave, students will be reinstated to their program in the same status as when the leave began, with no tuition penalty. For the purposes of this policy, “same status” refers to academic standing, i.e., Making Satisfactory Progress, and without fees to re-enroll.
- Continuation of students’ scholarship, fellowship, or similar Bowie State University sponsored funding during the leave term will depend on the students’ registration status and the policies of the funding program regarding registration status. Students will not be negatively impacted by or forfeit their future eligibility for their scholarship, fellowship, or similar Bowie State University supported funding by exercising their rights under this policy.
- The Title IX office can and will advocate for students with respect to financial aid agencies and external scholarship providers in the event that a leave of absence places eligibility into question.
- All student-employees will be entitled to the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act, regardless of whether they are also students or hold post-doctoral status.
- Pregnancy and related conditions will be treated as any other temporary disability for job purposes, including leave and benefits.
- When Bowie State University does not provide leave (i.e. students employed as Graduate Assistants, Federal Work-Study recipients, etc.), if an employee is ineligible or has not satisfied time in service requirements for other leave policies, pregnancy and related conditions will be regarded as a justification for a leave of absence without pay for a reasonable period of time.
- At the conclusion of the leave period, the University will reinstate the employee to the status that they held when the leave began or to a comparable position, without decrease in rate of compensation or loss of promotional opportunities, or any other right or privilege of employment.
RETALIATION AND HARASSMENT
- Harassment of any member of the Bowie State University community based on sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual preference, pregnancy, or parental status is prohibited.
- Faculty, staff, and other Bowie State University employees are prohibited from interfering with students’ right to take leave, seek reasonable accommodation, or otherwise exercise their rights under this policy.
- Faculty, staff, and other Bowie State University employees are prohibited from retaliating against students for exercising the rights articulated by this policy, including imposing or threatening to impose negative educational outcomes because students request leave or accommodation, file a complaint, or otherwise exercise their rights under this policy.
HOUSING-RELATED ACCOMMODATIONSPregnant student’s on-campus housing status will not be altered based on pregnancy status unless requested by the pregnant student. Parenting students are not prohibited from accessing campus housing, however, children under the age of 16 are not permitted in Residence Halls pursuant to the University’s housing visitation policy.
DISSEMINATION OF THE POLICY AND TRAINING
A copy of this policy will be made available to faculty, staff, and employees in annually required training and posted on the Bowie State University website. Bowie State University will alert all new students, faculty, staff and employees about this policy and the location of this policy as part of orientation. Bowie State University Medical Center will provide a copy of the Policy to students upon request. The Title IX office will make educational materials available to all members of the Bowie State University community to promote compliance with this policy and familiarity with its procedures.
Any member of the Bowie State University community may report a violation of this policy to any supervisor, manager, or to the Title IC Coordinator. All responsible employees are required to promptly forward such reports to the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for overseeing complaints of discrimination involving pregnant and parenting students.
The Title IX Coordinator for Bowie State University is:
Jasmyn Lucas, Esq.
Equity Investigator/Title IX Coordinator
Thurgood Marshall Library, Suite 247
Complaints may also be filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights at:
U.S. Department of education
The Wanamaker Building
100 Penn Square East, Suite 515
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3323
Complaints may be filed online, using the online form available at www.ed.gov/ocr/compliantintro.html.
VI – 1.00 Policy on Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity
VI – 1.03 Policy on Reasonable Accommodations
VII – 7.45 Policy on Sick Leave
Effective Date: 12/8/22