Jun 9, 2010 11:16 AM by Melissa Canone
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Justice has sided
with the American Civil Liberties Union in its challenge of
single-gender classes at a Kaplan middle school.
In April, U.S. District Judge Richard Haik denied the ACLU's
motion to stop single-sex classes at Rene Rost Middle School and
set up a plan for the school to continue the classes in August.
The Justice Department has filed a "friend of the court" brief
in support of the ACLU's appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of
Last year, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Rost parent
and her two daughters.
The lawsuit claimed that the classes violated students' rights
to an equal education, Title IX and other federal regulations.
The Justice Department brief supports ACLU's claims that the
single-sex education classes failed to meet federal regulations
governing the implementation of single-sex classes.
Rost implemented single-sex classes in August.
Federal regulations allow single-sex classes under certain
conditions: namely if the intention is to provide diversity of
education options and the program is designed to meet "particular,
identified educational needs of students," according to the
The regulations also mandate "an evenhanded manner" in the
implementation of the classes and a "substantially equal"
co-educational option must be available.
Participation also must be voluntary.
There was no justifiable evidence presented in court for the
program's implementation in 2009-10 or for Haik's order that the
program may continue, the Justice Department argued in its brief.
Vermilion Parish School Board's acceptance of the program was
based on data presented by Rost Principal David Dupuis, which court
testimony and evidence showed was flawed, the brief said.
Without Dupuis' data, "There is no credible evidence
demonstrating that single-sex classes are supported by an
'exceedingly persuasive justification,"' the Justice Department
In his April ruling, Haik criticized Dupuis and called the
school board "negligent" for its failure to investigate and
oversee the plan.
There was not sufficient evidence to prove intentional
discrimination or harm, Haik ruled.
Haik further ruled the program was proper as long as it is
"completely voluntary and there is substantially equal coed
opportunity available to every student."
In its brief, the federal agency said opportunity was not
available in 2009-10 because court testimony revealed
co-educational classes available also served as the designated
class for students with special educational needs or Individualized
In court proceedings, Haik questioned the practice and his order
requires that individualized services be provided in both
co-educational and single-sex classes at each grade level.