Mo. school district to stop offering single-sex classes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A western Missouri school district will stop offering single-gender classes after the American Civil Liberties Union threatened legal action, school officials said Tuesday.

About 770 students attend the Adrian R-III School District began offering single-sex math and communication arts classes this fall to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students. But it received a letter Friday from the ACLU, which said the classes “may violate numerous provisions of federal law.”

“While the district does not necessarily agree with the ACLU’s legal analysis or conclusions regarding research on the topic, it has decided to stop providing its students with the opportunity to participate in single-sex classes effective as soon as possible with most changes occurring at the beginning of next semester,” according to the statement sent out by the district’s attorney.

The district is about 50 miles south of Kansas City.

Single-sex classes began proliferating after a U.S. Education Department ruling in 2006 that allowed such classes whenever school officials believed it would will expand the diversity of courses, improve students’ achievement or meet their individual needs.

But the ACLU has argued the regulations conflict with the U.S. Constitution and Title IX, a federal law banning sex discrimination in education.

The ACLU has sent letters to other districts offering single-sex classes and even taken some of those districts to court. Earlier this month, the head of Pittsburgh’s public school system recommended ending single-gender classes after the ACLU threatened legal action. Last month, the Vermilion Parish School Board in Louisiana agreed to temporarily end single-sex classes at a middle school, resolving an ACLU lawsuit.

The ACLU said in a written statement that many programs in the Adrian district are based on disputed theories that suggest boys and girls learn so differently that they need to be taught separately. The district said in an earlier statement that the classes were used on a “voluntary basis in an effort to continue improvement of student learning.”

Doug Bonney, legal director of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, didn’t immediately return a phone call late Tuesday afternoon from The Associated Press.

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