- The Washington Times
Monday, February 9, 2015

A D.C. Council member has asked the city’s Attorney General to review the public school system’s plan to open an all-boys school meant to address achievement disparities among black and Hispanic students.

The commitment to build the all-boys college preparatory high school was announced last month by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson as part of a $20 million plan to boost academic achievement and graduation rates among black and Hispanic students.

D.C. Council member Mary Cheh’s concern with the plan is that it could be illegal to open an all boys-school without also providing the same educational benefit to girls.

On Monday, she sent a letter to Attorney General Karl Racine asking him to provide a legal opinion on the “Empowering Males of Color” initiative.

“The problem with boys-only programs or schools is not the separation of the two groups, as such,” wrote Ms. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat. “What is potentially illegal is offering educational benefits to boys without offering the same or substantially equal benefits to girls.”

Ms. Cheh questions whether the plan runs afoul of Title IX, the landmark federal law that bans discrimination based on sex in schools and colleges, best known for forcing changes in spending on athletic teams. She also expressed concern about whether it’d pass muster under the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection clause and the District’s own Human Rights Act.

Ms. Bowser’s spokesman declined to say Monday to what degree the initiative had been legally reviewed.

“The administration looks forward to seeing the Attorney General’s legal opinion,” spokesman Michael Czin said.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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