The ACLU filed the suit, claiming that the single-gender program is discriminatory and violated students’ rights to equal education.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the National Women’s Law Center filed separate friend-of-the-court briefs in support of ACLU in June.
In April, a case was brought to the Federal courts involving Rene Rost's same-gender programs. The judge in that case ruled the school could continue its single-gender program during the 2009-2010 school year.
“This is a practice of segregating students,” said Marjorie Esman, executive director of ACLU of Louisiana of the single-gender program, “and is without providing equality in education.”
Esman said she and the union feel the continuation of the program would “absolutely hurt” the students.
“It’s a violation of the Constitution,” she said. “The curriculum is not the same in single-gender classrooms. Even if it would be possible to create an identical curriculum program, there would still be subconscious stereotyping messages given.”
Esman said she thinks sending a child into a single-gender program should be an informed decision made by the parents.
“Parents should be given information before the start of the school year and the information would have to include things like, which books are being read,” she said. “All the information needs to be spelled out.
“The education philosophy and educationally climate is different with these programs. There’s a subconscious philosophy that may treat girls and boys differently. If the parents are not fully informed, they can not make a fully informed choice,” Esman concluded.
Calvin “Woody” Woodruff, the attorney for the Vermilion Parish School Board, said he does not see a problem with the program.
“People need to understand it is not discriminatory,” Woodruff commented. “The program has the same curriculum with the same teachers.”
He said that participation is voluntary and there are still co-ed courses available at Rene Rost. In addition to the current program, Woodruff said the school board has the authority to let any middle school use the program.
He said a such a program on a smaller scale was used last year at J.H. Williams Middle School in Abbeville. This year, however, because of scheduling conflicts, the program has stopped.
Woodruff said the same tactics used in the district case would be used in the appellate case.
“The facts of the trial stand,” said Woodruff. “We think the District Courts were correct in their decision.”