LAFAYETTE, La. (CN) – A public school district is illegally segregating middle-school students by sex, a mother claims in Federal Court. The mom says public schools are allowed to offer sex-segregated classes, but the Vermillion Parish School Board made it mandatory, and when she complained, the board said it would put her daughters in “special needs” classes, which they do not require.
Jane Doe, represented by the ACLU, says she informed the school board that mandatory sex segregation was illegal, but it went ahead anyway, forcing her to go to court. She says Rene A. Rost Middle School refuses to take remedial action and continues to support unconstitutional, mandatory single-sex classrooms.
On Jan. 24, 2008, the Vermillion Parish School Board adopted a policy allowing Rost Middle School Principal David Dupuis to “conduct a study” on sex segregation during the 2008-09 school year. This program was expanded in the 2009-10 school year and parental consent was not sought to experiment upon or “study” the students, according to the complaint.
To give an illusion of choice, the school board sent a letter to parents that allowed them to choose whether to enroll their children in single-sex or co-educational classes. Doe says she completed the form and asked that her daughters be placed in co-educational classes.
She says the school told her that if that’s what she wanted, her daughters would be placed in a “special needs” class, which was co-educational. Doe says neither of her daughters has “special needs.”
Dupuis told the newspaper “Abbeville Now” that different teaching methods will be used with boys and girls, the complaint states. He said, for example, that boys would be offered books that appeal to boys, and girls could be read books that appeal to girls.
Such comments show that the two gender tracks are not equal and are precisely the sort of sex stereotyping and discrimination that Title IX seeks to prevent, Doe says.
She says school officials pressured her daughters to consent to the segregated classes: “(L)ate on Wednesday, September 3, 2009, Plaintiff Jane Doe learned that her younger daughter, Jill Doe, was refused admittance to the co-educational class because it is ‘full.’ Therefore, despite the express wishes of her parent, minor Jill Doe is being placed in sex-segregated classrooms.
“The co-educational classes are not ‘equal’ to the sex-segregated classes. First, Joan Doe was told that if she wanted to attend co-educational classes, she would be in the ‘special needs’ section. Plaintiff Jill Doe was told that she was ‘too smart’ for that.”
The mother wants the sex-segregation policies enjoined as unconstitutional, and costs. She is represented by Ronald Wilson with the ACLU.