Louisiana charter school changing pregnancy test requirement

Thursday, August 9, 2012 - 3:40pm

A Louisiana charter school is changing a policy that required pregnant students to be removed from class and home-schooled, pending board approval, a school official said Thursday.

"The school has not eliminated its pregnancy policy at this time," said Chris Broussard, a spokesman for the Delhi Charter School.

The details of the revision -- which would take effect after the school board weighs in and approves -- are not yet clear.

Broussard said the law firm Davenport, Files and Kelly helped revise the policy to make it compliant with federal law, after it came under intense criticism from rights groups.

Under the school's current policy, posted on its website, "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."

In cases where a test determines that one of the school's approximately 700 students is pregnant, "the student will not be permitted to attend classes on the campus of Delhi Charter School."

Any student suspected of being pregnant 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," it said.

In a letter sent to school officials, American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Marjorie R. Esman said the policy "is based on the archaic and pernicious stereotype that a girl's pregnancy sets a 'bad example' for her peers -- i.e., that in having engaged in sexual activity, she has transgressed acceptable norms of feminine behavior."

News that the policy would be reviewed was welcomed by Louise Melling, director of the ACLU Center for Liberty, who described the policy as "reminiscent of the '50s."

August 15 is the first day of class.

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