Reinstate Nursing Student

Reinstate Nursing Student

September 9, 2022
Petition to
president of college
Signatures: 182Next Goal: 200
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Why this petition matters

Started by Kayla Downing

Hello, my name is Kayla Downing. I am a former nursing student that was attending a local community college here in South Carolina. I am a 33 year old African American mother of now three children. I became pregnant with my third child in my 2nd semester of nursing school. I was doing really well in my program up until I became a high risk while pregnant. While attending this local community college I faced discrimination, retaliation, and lack of support and accommodations during pregnancy and postpartum, which resulted in me getting kicked out. I’m now asking the President of my college to reinstate me in my program so that I can fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. Please sign to show your support!


Here's my story:

During my pregnancy I had to fight for to receive accommodations. I was initially denied access to virtual learning I needed for when I was at my high-risk pregnancy appointments, and was only provided it after other students requested virtual instruction because of high gas prices. I was also forced to rely on poor class recordings from another student instead of receiving the help I’m entitled to under Title IX.  I was also denied points while I was attending high-risk appointments. And the professor over-scrutinized me, for example, instead of using the standard proctoring, she personally watched me take every at home exam. 


After birth, while I was still in the middle of recovery, not sleeping, in pain, and experiencing severe mental health disability, I was forced to participate in a meeting with my professor and administrators to determine my future. I had already submitted a doctor’s note calling for the standard 6 weeks postpartum recovery and the folks in the room were aware that I was under doctor’s care and had been advised that it was medically necessary to take time away from my studies to recover. 


During that meeting with me just days after delivering my child, the faculty forced me to come back to class on campus and clinicals, totally disregarding my doctors orders. I was told it would not be possible to take the leave I needed and continue my studies this fall, even though there was enough time to make that happen. And I was told that if I didn’t return I would fail the class due the college having issues with finding me an adjunct to oversee me at clinical due to my doctor’s note having me out until August 15th. (Please note the school had months and months of notice about my due date in which to plan.) I only had 3 clinicals and 1 lab to complete, which would be done in time to still start the next semester on time. Even if not possible to make up the few days of work in time, I could of gotten an incomplete and start next semester within the add/drop. This was denied. The college gave no options. No options were provided that would let me graduate on time, even though they were available. The faculty told me that if I did not return to clinicals right away (before my doctor cleared me) that I would fail the class, and that I needed to change my doctor’s notes to allow me to return.


So, thinking I had no other option, I asked my doctor for new notes. One doctor’s note was for the return to clinical and another doctor’s note was to allow me to participate in classes or exams virtually until August 15th since that would be less anxiety and stress during my postpartum period. The faculty was well aware that I was suffering from postpartum depression and was not in the right head space during this time, but I was forced to start taking exams right away. Later that week, my disability coordinator who was supposed to have been my advocate at this college stated she contacted my doctor to clarify doctor’s notes that I provided.


About 2 weeks after I was discharged from the hospital, the disability coordinator at the college told me that my doctor said that I should return fully to studies, in-person, right away. Believing this to be true I returned to campus to take my last major test, which was worth 75% of my final grade. This test could make or break me if I didn’t do well because it weighed so heavily. The day before returning to campus for my test, my instructor told me I had to take 2 exams on that day. I asked to be able to take one of the test on an alternate day. I was denied this. I was very distraught receiving this news only to later find out that 2 other students was given the opportunity to take those same 2 test in question on alternate days. With me going back to campus with what I thought was true from my disability coordinator, my anxiety was through the roof hence to why my doctor preferred me to continuing testing at home. Just imagine after just giving birth and having to return back to campus just weeks after birth to be given two major test (exams) on the first day. I literally could not even concentrate. 


My doctor later told me that they never changed their recommendation. No one from my doctor’s office even spoke to my school’s disability coordinator. I received not only a transcript from my doctor’s office of the encounters that day per my chart but also a written statement from my doctor that stated no one from the office had any direct verbal, written communication with anyone on the date in question that my disability coordinator said that she spoke to someone from that office. There were clear instructions making it possible for me to return in a way that protected my health, but my disability coordinator at the college on her own fabricated that my doctor changed my plan of care without involving me in my own plan of care. If it wasn’t for me being misled by my disability coordinator, I would not have taken 3 tests in 8 days—while still in the middle of recovery—and I would not have failed the course by less than 3 points. I did not know all the facts to what she had done until after. 

Also to add to this, I was treated worse than other students who weren’t pregnant or recovering from childbirth. The college gave other students an extensive time to get work made up. One particular student got until October to make up her work, meanwhile I was told that I had to have my makeup work made up by August 15th. Other students were given extra points for other reasons. Like student given 20 points for having a panic attack while taking after finishing a test. 

I’ve sent complaint after complaint to the college to get this fixed. When I complained about being pressured to return, I was told most students come back in 1-2 weeks, as though that was justification. In one hearing, I was told that Title IX doesn’t require postpartum accommodations at the college level, which is totally incorrect. They have refused to make this right.

My next step in this grievance is to appeal up to the president to get try to get reinstated back into the nursing ADN program where I rightfully belong. I only failed the class by 2.86 points. I asked the committee to consider giving me the 2.86 points or give me my average on that unit 5 test since I was forced back to campus under duress and with the false impression that my disability coordinator was telling me the correct information from my doctor. I am petitioning to get reinstated back into the ADN nursing program due to the harsh and illegal treatment I endured during my pregnancy from the school. I am also petitioning to receive  the points, average and or a retake of the class if they deem it necessary. If you could please take out time to help me so that I can present this to the president of the college to consider that would be great. 

Title IX requires educational institutions that receive federal financial assistance from the Department to not discriminate against pregnant students. It also requires colleges to provide us with leave for as long as medically necessary, and accommodations. It is illegal to threaten, coerce or intimidate a student pursuing their Title IX rights.

I have always wanted to be a nurse since I was a little girl. I had fought to be in this school from the beginning. I have had some ups and down’s but I always remained positive. I have three children that are counting on me and not to mention, I am a single parent. I even had to stop working during nursing school because nursing school is very demanding and I’m devoted to giving it my all. I have been an advocate for my class since the beginning and I believe in being fair and doing what is right. In no way shape form do I feel as though I could not have granted a fair shot at my degree. Til this day I still have faith that everything will work out, and I appreciate your help.
Please help if you can! All I need is a signature to support me on my journey! Please share! 

Support now
Signatures: 182Next Goal: 200
Support now