Point of View: Position Papers

NYCRC Blasts Feds’ Support of Single-Sex Schools, Classes; Accuses Officials of ‘Alice-Wonderland Enforcement’.
May 9, 2002

Michael Meyers, the Executive Director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, one of three civil rights groups that in 1996 lodged a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against the Young Women’s Leadership School in East Harlem, New York, issued a statement today blasting the Feds? proposal to allow governmental funding of single-sex schools and classes. Mr. Meyers’ statement follows:

“The notice of the U.S. Education Department’s intent to reinterpret Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments so as to allow federal funding of single-sex schools and single-sex classes represents not only a 180 reversal in non-discrimination public policy but constitutes a full-scale retreat from the enforcement of equal opportunity law. Its proposal makes a mockery of equal opportunity law and in so doing makes crystal clear why the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education has literally sat on our complaint against the all-girls public school in East Harlem for six years. They knew that the all-girls public school violates current federal law and so, now, they propose to change the regulations so that they will never have to render a ruling in our favor,a ruling which, if it had issued, would’ve dealt a death blow to the single-sex public school movement.

“The proposed regulations actually turn upside down the non-discrimination principles of civil rights laws by not only permitting federally-aided single-sex public schools but by also allowing single-sex classes that were, heretofore, (with very narrow and limited exceptions) illegal under Title IX. And the new regs will do so by means of an outright recasting of civil rights law, and not even on the anticipated flimsy basis of a so-called ?affirmative action exception.?

?The Feds? intent here, in the guise of promoting ?options? in education is tantamount to the functional repeal of Title IX law and of the fudging of once clear non-discrimination in education principles. Hence, this effort raises substantial constitutional questions and, we believe, will draw legal challenges.

?Officials at the U.S. Education Department ought to be ashamed of themselves. This move represents sheer hypocrisy, bald-faced dishonesty, and outright chicanery on their part, on the part of those, including my friend Assistant Secretary Gerald Reynolds, who placed their hands up to God and swore to enforce the civil rights laws. What they appear to have meant, and promised, was instead to change the law to suit their fancy, and to hold off on enforcing the clear legal precedents with which they disagree.

?Worst still, they are plotting these changes in equal opportunity policy through the use of mocking rhetoric and doublespeak, such as, ?Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance.? This is Alice-in-Wonderland law enforcement.?