A settlement agreement was reached to end illegal and discriminatory sex segregation in the Mobile, Alabama School District this week. According to the settlement agreement “Hankins Middle School will immediately and for the remainder of the 2008-2009 school year cease any segregation by sex, or segregation by academic teams that has the effect of segregating by sex” and that, beginning in the 2009-2010 school year, the school district will not “carry out any of its education programs or activities separately on the basis of sex, or require or refuse participation in any school, any course, or any education program or activity by any students on the basis of sex.”
Hankins Middle School, one of the system’s schools, was segregated by sex for the 2008-2009 school year and currently has no co-educational options. This move was allegedly made without notifying students’ parents and went so far as to prohibit students from interacting socially with those of another sex, according to the ACLU.
Emily Martin, Deputy Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Program said in a press release that “While schools might think that sex segregated classes will be a quick fix for failing schools, in reality they are inherently unequal and shortchange both boys and girls… We hope that now Mobile County will focus on efforts that we know can improve all students’ education, like smaller classes and more teacher training and parental involvement.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Alabama sent a letter (see PDF) in November 2008 to the Mobile County School System, the largest school system in Alabama, warning that mandatory sex segregation policies are illegal and stating that the segregation reported to the ACLU by parents of students at Hankins Middle School “appears to violate Title IX and its implementing regulations, the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA), and the Constitution.”