Secretary Paige Announces Intent to Provide More Flexibility Regarding Single-Sex Classes and Schools

Secretary Paige Announces Intent to Provide More Flexibility Regarding Single-Sex Classes and Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige today announced his intention to provide more flexibility for single-sex classes and schools and issued a notice of intent to regulate (NOIR), requesting input from the public regarding single-sex classes and schools.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 contains a provision that authorizes local education agencies to use local innovative education funds provided by the act to establish programs to provide same-gender schools and classrooms. In today’s edition of the Federal Register, Paige published the NOIR and issued guidelines summarizing the current law regarding single-sex programs. The guidelines are being published as required by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 for local education agencies that elect to use local innovative funds for single-sex programs.

The secretary intends to propose amendments to the regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to provide more flexibility for educators to establish single-sex classes and schools at the elementary and secondary levels. The purpose of the amendments would be to support efforts of school districts to improve education outcomes for children and to provide public school parents with a diverse array of education options that respond to the education needs of their children, while at the same time ensuring appropriate safeguards against discrimination.

“This is a complex and sensitive issue that requires a considerable amount of consultations,” said Paige. “We are working with other federal agencies on this important issue, including the Department of Justice, and we believe it is important to receive input from parents, community leaders and interested education organizations. Our goal is to provide schools with as much flexibility as possible to offer students programs that meet their needs.”

The use of single-sex classes and schools can reflect important and legitimate efforts to improve education outcomes for all students and has been the subject of recent congressional proposals. The proposal to amend or clarify the Title IX regulations would apply only to non-vocational elementary and secondary schools and classes. This is where the need for flexibility to respond to students’ diverse education needs is most prevalent.

Single-sex classes

With today’s publication in the Federal Register, Secretary Paige invites comments on whether and under what circumstances the use of single-sex classes should be permitted under the Title IX regulations. He specifically invites advice and recommendations from state and local administrators, parents, teachers, community leaders, paraprofessionals, members of local boards of education, charter school operators and public chartering agencies, civil rights groups and education organizations. He is seeking comments on what justifications would be needed for single-sex classes, what opportunities should be provided for students of the excluded sex to ensure equal opportunity, and whether some classes should not be permitted to be single-sex.

Single-sex schools

Because of the statutory exemption for single-sex admissions policies of non-vocational elementary and secondary schools, which is reflected in the Title IX regulations, a school district does not need to provide the department with a justification for offering a single-sex school. There is already flexibility in the regulations for allowing school districts to offer single-sex non-vocational schools as long as certain conditions are met. However, the goal of this process is to clarify what opportunities would need to be provided for students of the excluded sex to ensure equal opportunity.

After comments on this notice are reviewed, the secretary will publish a proposed amendment to the Title IX regulations for public comment.

The published notice of intent to regulate may be found at http://www.ed.gov/ocr/t9-noi-ss.html, and the guidelines for single-sex schools and classes may be found at http://www.ed.gov/ocr/t9-guidelines-ss.html.

During and after the comment period, all public comments will be available for inspection and may be reviewed in response to this notice in room 5036, Mary E. Switzer Building, 330 C Street S.W., Washington, D.C., between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., EDT, Monday through Friday of each week except federal holidays.