The Department of Education has failed pregnant and parenting students leading to widespread drop out rates, according to NYCLU testimony presented today before the City Council Education Committee.

The DOE has a legal obligation to provide pregnant and parenting students with full and equal access to both the educational opportunities and the support services that they need to succeed. Unfortunately, the educational promise offered to pregnant and parenting students is not being fulfilled. The combination of social stigma, lack of adequate training for administrators, insufficient support services and intensified high-stakes testing create an environment that pushes many pregnant and parenting teens out of New York City public schools.

Recent studies have shown that as many as 70 percent of teens who become mothers drop out of school. Faced with the demands of school work on top of the challenges of raising a child, and lacking adequate support services, pregnant and parenting students too often have little choice but to drop out.

The following statement can be attributed to Lee Che Leong, director of the Teen Health Initiative, a program of the NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project:

“The DOE’s recent decision to close special schools for pregnant students without establishing meaningful alternatives for support services has left many pregnant and parenting students with nowhere to turn.

As New York City restructures the alternative high school system, we cannot leave pregnant and parenting students behind. The City Council should demand that the DOE take immediate steps to ensure that pregnant and parenting students are offered the services they need to continue their education, and that school administrators are provided with meaningful training on the needs of pregnant and parenting students. Otherwise, these students will continue to be forced into inferior educational options, or to drop out of the public education system altogether.”

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