Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Dr. Michael Knight


Despite a significant drop in the number of pregnant adolescents and reforms to fight

gender discrimination under Title IX, teen pregnancy and risk factors including poverty,

stigma, and substance abuse, which may lead to different negative outcomes, such as

depression, social isolation, and lowered self-esteem remain a persistent problem in the

United States. Due to these factors, pregnant and parenting teens have been noted to drop

out of high school prematurely. Using incrementalism as a theoretical framework, the

purpose of this qualitative exploratory case study was to explore and describe Title IX

compliance and local policies and practices of educators as well as their role in the lives

of pregnant and parenting teens pursuing secondary education. As a public policy, the

purpose of Title IX is to protect students regardless of gender. Data were collected

through in-depth interviews of 4 policy makers and 16 educators from public school

districts across a northeastern state. To analyze the data, interviews were transcribed,

inductively coded, and subjected to a thematic analysis procedure. Regardless of the

existence of Title IX, the findings show it is incrementally enforced, coming into play

slowly or even ignored. The themes included stigma, discriminatory segregation, funding

gaps, support of programs largely outside of school, accountability for programs, denial

of educators' voices on policy and practices, and recommendations of real life skills for

pregnant and parenting students. This study provides relevant information to use as a

basis for Title IX compliance and local educational policy modifications. This study

suggests compliance and modifications may contribute to positive academic progress for

pregnant and parenting adolescents.