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A pregnant student at Hinds Community College in Mississippi was repeatedly denied supports she needed to prepare for and parent her new child in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights announced Thursday.

The student who filed the OCR complaint was told to withdraw for the semester when she asked for flexibility to leave a class early in order to get to her doctor’s appointment on time, the agency found. The student became pregnant during her final semester of a redacted program at the college which entailed working in the community under an instructor. Students additionally attended lectures and took six tests as well as a final exam as part of the program.

She was penalized for missing 20 minutes of a lecture while hospitalized after giving birth early. Back at the college, she struggled to find time and a working space to pump breast milk despite requesting breaks to do so and ended up pumping in a restroom at times. She failed her final semester.

Throughout her pregnancy and after giving birth, the student told OCR that her instructor harassed her, referring to her unborn child as a “parasite” and questioning how often she was feeding her newborn.

“As a result, the student reported to OCR that she felt extremely discouraged and humiliated while trying to complete the program,” OCR wrote in a letter to Hinds Community College. “The student also attributed her development of preeclampsia at least in part to the stress she was experiencing from working under the instructor.”

The instructor was eventually fired because of comments made about the student. But college officials didn’t take action to remedy the effects of the harassment, even after the student filed a Title IX complaint.

To resolve the investigation, Hinds will reimburse the student the full cost of tuition and any related mandatory expenses for the final semester, revise its policies and train its employees on how to address requests from pregnant students, among other measures.

OCR found that the Mississippi college had no process to respond to pregnant students’ requests and didn’t consider pregnancy or related conditions as Title IX matters. Additionally, when the student was hospitalized, the college also didn’t seem to consider whether the pregnancy had caused a temporary disability, thus qualifying her for academic adjustments under federal law that protects those with disabilities.

OCR has honed in on pregnancy discrimination as a key issue in recent years, particularly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.