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A hand up: A high school's response to student motherhood

1 January 1996


Since the passage of the 1972 Education Amendments, pregnant and parenting teenagers have had the legal right to an equal opportunity to education in any school receiving federal funds. In some districts, this legal mandate has resulted in little more than pregnant and parenting students no longer being expelled, however this response is increasingly being viewed as inadequate.

More progressive responses consider pregnant and parenting students to be students with special needs. To make education a truly equal opportunity for these students, assistance must be provided that minimizes the barriers to continuing education that these unique students face. Schools throughout the country are currently implementing programs designed to meet the needs of pregnant and parenting students on a variety of ways.

This research project was a qualitative case study of a student mother enrolled in a high school that offered an assistance program to pregnant and parenting students. The objective of this study was to examine the interactions and circumstances of this student mother's high school involvement and to determine how, and if, the school made education an equal opportunity.

The findings of this study demonstrated that a school support network which assisted student mothers in overcoming their unique needs was highly beneficial. However, it was also determined that a school support network was not the only support mechanism necessary to ensure student success. Family and/ or community assistance systems were needed to provide the student mother with help outside of the school's sphere of influence.

The results of this study might be beneficial to future persons involved in the design or operation of a pregnant or parenting student assistance program.


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