California Women’s Law Center Releases Updated “ABC’s of Breastfeeding” Report Card for L.A. County School Districts
New Report Shows Widespread Improvement Among Majority of Districts
(Los Angeles, California) – The California Women’s Law Center (CWLC) is releasing an updated report card regarding the status of lactation accommodation policies in Los Angeles County school districts. The “ABC’s of Breastfeeding” is an assessment of breastfeeding policy impacting female employees and students in education and evaluates school districts’ compliance with California’s Title IX notification mandates.
Breastfeeding is recommended by every major health care organization. Federal and state law mandate school protection of the rights of parenting employees and students, including by allowing breast milk be provided to their children free from discrimination.
Under Title IX and California law, schools are required to provide accommodations to allow pregnant students to remain full participants in their education, receiving the same benefits in school as every other student. In 2015, California passed a law to clarify that lactating students are entitled to specific protections including the provision of a private space to express milk and that the space provided cannot be a bathroom or a closet. Many pregnant or parenting students are unaware of their rights and for various reasons are forced into alternative schooling or drop out of school.
Title IX enforcement is a priority for the California Women’s Law Center. In 2015, CWLC collaborated with BreastfeedLA and the ACLU of Southern California to release the initial “ABC’s of Breastfeeding” report card. Following its publication, CWLC worked with non-compliant districts to adopt model policies and post required Title IX information on their websites. An updated report card in 2016 of the 81 school districts in Los Angeles County illustrated the challenge that remained. At that time, only 10 Los Angeles County school districts had adopted compliant lactation accommodation board policies for both employees and students.
Over the last two years, CWLC has prioritized bringing all of Los Angeles County’s school districts into compliance and we are happy to report that as of this month, 63 districts have both employee and student lactation accommodation board policies in place. This is a substantial improvement from the report card released in 2016 and is of utmost importance to both students and employees.
“We are happy to have been instrumental in getting the majority of the 81 districts to adopt policies about student and employee lactation rights, along with ensuring that complaint processes are in place, and that school personnel have been identified to address lactation-related matters,” states CWLC Executive Director Betsy Butler. “This progress is encouraging despite the fact that it has taken a number of years to get school districts in Los Angeles County to come into compliance with state and federal law.”
As of February 2019, 61 school districts have received A’s, 8 have received B’s, 8 have C’s, 1 school has a D, and 3 schools have F grades (please see attached report card for more detailed information).
In contrast, in 2015 when the initial report card was issued, only one district received an A grade, 12 school districts had B’s, 25 had C’s, 21 were D’s, and 22 received F’s.
The grades in the report card reflect compliance in the following five areas:
The report card reflects the results of each district’s compliance with these specifications. Each specification met earned 1 point. The grades were given on a 5- point scale, where 5 points equaled an A and 1 point equaled an F.
For 30 years, CWLC has advocated for and enforced Title IX, including work noted in this report card as well as other pivotal areas of Title IX law related to athletics and campus sexual assault.
Title IX Notification Mandate
California law requires that all schools subject to Title IX post specific information on their websites in a “prominent and conspicuous location” which includes the name and contact information of their Title IX Coordinator, as well as the rights and responsibilities of students, employees and school districts under Title IX. Schools that receive any federal funds are required to comply with Title IX.
The California law was signed in 2016 and became effective July 1, 2017, meaning school districts had nearly one year to come into compliance with the notification and posting requirements. However, by July of 2017, an overwhelming majority of school districts in Los Angeles County were not complying and most were unaware of the new requirements. Over the last two years, CWLC has worked closely with Los Angeles school districts to provide the information necessary for compliance with the law. As a result, today 100% of school districts have identified a Title IX Coordinator and corresponding contact information on their websites.
About the California Women’s Law Center
Since its founding in 1989, the California Women’s Law Center (CWLC) has worked to eliminate the barriers that keep women and girls in poverty. CWLC breaks down barriers and advances the potential of women and girls through transformative litigation, policy advocacy and education. CWLC is a leader in Title IX education and enforcement in California at the high school level. For more information on all areas of CWLC’s work, visit cwlc.org.
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