The ACLU sent letters to Cabell, Wood
and Kanawha Counties demanding they end single-gender classrooms.
County School Superintendent Bill Smith says the county was already in the
process of discontinuing the practice at the only two schools where it took
place, Barboursville and Enslow Middle Schools.
“Enslow of course decided not to do it
because of scheduling issues and this year coming at Barboursville Middle, we
have a change of administration and they are not interested in doing that until
we pull some things together, so it didn’t come as a direct relationship to
this letter, that was already kind of decided before we even got a letter,”
Smith says the single gender classes
were offered in an effort to be innovative and to give the schools more options.
“Well I know the ACLU’s position is they
think it’s unconstitutional and until that’s determined we want to give the
schools the option to do this based on the OCR,
the Office of Civil Rights regulations, if we meet those regulations we
certainly would encourage a school to use this option for instruction,” Smith
The ACLU sent out letters to school
systems in West Virginia and six other states, including Maine and Florida,
which also have single-gender classrooms
Brenda Green is Executive Director of
the ACLU in West Virginia and said teaching boys and girls in different
classrooms is something that needs to stop.
“Well the ACLU feels they’re in violation
of title IX. The title IX amendments to the 1964 civil rights act strictly
prohibit discrimination based on gender and it when it comes to public
education federal law clearly prevents coeducational schools from implementing
single sex programs,” Green said.
Aside from violating the Civil Rights
Act, Green said single gender classrooms just don’t make sense for students in
the long run.
“I definitely think it’s not good
education to base curriculum design and teaching methods on gender stereotypes
that have been outdated for a long time. What young people need is a strong
educational environment where they’re taught that girls and boys are entitled
to the same rights under the law,” Green said.
Green isn’t surprised some school
districts are turning to single gender classrooms as one option to improve
“When you look at education reform over
the last couple of decades, there have always been these kinds of silver bullet
things that have come up and they sort of catch fire because they’re new and
they’re different so a lot of school districts will jump on the bandwagon, but
what we’ve found is a lot of those programs don’t last because they don’t work,”
Wood County Superintendent Patrick Law takes
issue with the ACLU claim that teaching boys and girls in different classrooms
is illegal. He points out split-gender classes are allowed by the U.S.
Department of Education and are listed as an option under its policies.
“There are parameters and guidelines
that they’ve established that allow this to take place it is not illegal. However we are in the process of examining what we are doing making certain
that we feel that we are in compliance with what the U.S. Department of
Education indicates is appropriate,” Law said.
Law says Wood County has had single
gender classrooms in one school for two years now. He says the county wants to
continue at least one more year to see if there are any improvements to student
County officials could
not be reached for comment how they plan to respond to the ACLU letter.