In a letter to school districts across the country Tuesday, the Education Department affirmed, among other things, that pregnant students should be afforded excused absences and should not need medical approval to be in school. Students also must be allowed to return to their same academic and extracurricular activities after a pregnancy, said the letter by Seth Galanter, the acting assistant secretary of the office for civil rights. "By ensuring that the student has the opportunity to maintain her academic status, we can encourage young parents to work toward graduation instead of choosing to drop out of school," Galanter wrote.

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