The Harford County Board of Education has developed a teen parent policy, which was presented to the board at Monday night’s school board meeting.
The new policy is designed to help pregnant or parenting students to complete their high school education and get a diploma. The policy addresses absences from class, home instruction policies, unequal alternative learning environments, support for childcare, and transportation among other issues.
The teen parent policy meets a mandate of the Maryland State Department of Education, said Kimberly H. Neal, general counsel for Harford County Public Schools, in her report to the board.
Pregnancy and teen parenting are significant contributors to high school dropout rates, Neal said. Her report states that, nationally, less than two percent of teen mothers obtain a college degree by age 30 and a third of children born to teen mothers don’t go on to earn a high school diploma, according to the National Women’s Law Center and the National Campaign.
No data was provided on the teen parent dropout or graduation rates for Harford County Public Schools. Members of the board did not comment or ask questions after the presentation.
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The policy requires high schools to help pregnant and parenting students with their absences and workload. Students will be allowed to make up work, and schools will be required to have a written attendance policy.
High schools also will be required to provide a designated breastfeeding space and give mothering students an excused absence while using it.
The new policy also addresses challenges for parenting students, such as finding day care and transportation for their child so the parent can stay in school, finding money for childcare and the need to advocate for their rights as defined in Title IX, according to the report.
Parenting students will be assigned to a staff member who will help them find affordable resources. The school may consult with school social workers and/or school pupil personnel workers regarding community resources.
The draft policy presented to the board for approval is based on the state department of education’s model policy. Both policies have the same requirements, but HCPS will require schools to give more training to teachers. The Maryland State Department of Education has set a June 1 deadline for the new policy to be implemented, Neal said.