The U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights is investigating a complaint that the Fort Worth school district discriminated against a high school volleyball player because she was pregnant.
The player, 17-year-old Mackenzie McCollum of Arlington Heights, was a starting setter until the school discovered she was pregnant on Oct. 7, according to Laura S. Kaufmann, a lawyer with Washington-based National Women's Law Center, which represents McCollum.
She was 10 weeks pregnant at the time.
School officials told McCollum that she needed a doctor's note clearing her to play. Kaufmann says the district violated Title IX, the 1972 law that prohibits sex-based discrimination at schools receiving federal money.
"She's a top student, a musician and a star volleyball player on the varsity team," Kaufmann said. "She got pregnant and when the athletic coordinator at the school found out, she was told she couldn't play anymore on the team.
"And they demanded that if she did want to play, she had to produce a note from her doctor clearing her to play. But it's not clear that they are applying that condition to all athletes, and that's one of the things Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires."
McCollum's mother, Barbara Horton, would not comment without Kaufmann present.
"What we really want is for the district to adopt a more robust policy regarding the treatment of pregnant parenting students," Kaufmann said. "It's important moving forward that others that find themselves in this situation don’t have to go through the same experience."
The Fort Worth schools Web site includes a policy specific to pregnant students.
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