UPDATE: No More Single Gender Classes In Wood County

By: Todd Baucher, Mollie Lair, Shannon Houser Email
By: Todd Baucher, Mollie Lair, Shannon Houser Email

UPDATE: 7/2/2013

The Wood County Board of Education agrees to a lawsuit settlement after a judge says the county can't implement single-sex classes.

The fight for equal classrooms began earlier this year. Representing a mother and her daughters, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Wood County Schools saying the single gender classes at Van Devender Middle School were unconstitutional. Executive Director of WV ACLU, Brenda Green explained the lawsuit back in August. "We don't have a blanket opposition to single-sex classrooms. We have a concern about violations to Title 9. It prevents discrimination based on gender in public schools."

Now, the battle is over. A US judge approved a settlement banning single gender classes in Wood County.

Wood County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Law, explains the settlement. "The agreement says we will not have single gender classes for at least two years."

But the settlement more like a probationary period. After those two years, the school is free to bring back single gender classes, with some restrictions.

"Some oversight or an opportunity for the ACLU to come in and see that we are following the law with the classes," Dr. Law says.

The superintendent also adds, the reason the ban is only for two years, is most likely because the students at the center of the lawsuit will be graduated from the school then.

School officials say the classes are beneficial to students,and are hopeful they will return.

"I know that the teachers at Van Devender were very pleased with the effects and what was going on while this was in place and very sorry to see it have to be stopped because they were seeing some good things, improvements in discipline and behaviors and interest of students in classes,' says Dr. Law.

He adds, the judge ruled the way parents opt-out of single gender classes was against the law. The judge says parents must instead opt-in to those classes. It's a rule Dr. Law says wasn't very clear, but they will follow should they bring back single gender classes in 2015.

They must also give notice before any single-sex programs are implemented through the 2018-2019 school year.

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UPDATE: 7/2/13

A decision on single gender classes concerning Van Devender Middle School. The Wood County Board of Education has agreed not to implement single-sex classes in schools for at least two years.

The agreement settles a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the mother of three female students at Van Devender Middle School.

Van Devender had wanted to separate reading, math, social studies and science classes by gender.

The lawsuit filed in 2012 alleged that single-sex classes violate the U.S. Constitution and federal gender equality laws.

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UPDATE: 6/26/2012 10:47 pm

Van Devender Middle School changed to single-gender classes two years ago. But after drawing criticism from the ACLU Principal Stephen Taylor is presenting evidence on why this teaching method is effective.

The Wood County Board of Education will make the final decision.

"I thought they were very supportive. I think obviously we need to sit down and make some hard choices, but regardless of what the outcome is we will do whatever we think is best for the students whether it be gender-based or non gender-based," says Taylor.

Taylor says grades are up and disciplinary action is down among students. But board members say these statistics aren't long term.

"Well I think the main thing to state about the information he presented this evening is we have a very limited amount of data to work with at this point. It's difficult to whether the scores are improving or not improving with just a couple of years data. Essentially right now it looks flat, but it's hard to say," says Superintendent Dr. James Law.

The ACLU is threatening legal action. Potentially costing the school system more than $10,000.

But the board is willing to defend this teaching method if it's truly beneficial.

"I think the main thing we would like to consider which we may not get that opportunity is, is it really helping students? And we may not have the opportunity to use that as one of our determinants. But we'll look at the benefits that we are seeing and try to judge whether that's enough," says Dr. Law.

Some parents and even upcoming students think the benefits speak for themselves.

"It's terrible that my own son is the one that brought that up to me. I mean I told him what I saw and that they were going to put the boys and girls back together and he said, 'mom I don't want them to put the boys and girls back together because this is the first year I've made]
A's and B's and I can focus.'" says parent Naomi Hall.

"I think that would be better for the students cause it would be easier for the teachers to focus on their work and they would get a lot more progress done in the school year," says upcoming 6th grader Destiny Fleshman.

Not every parent is in support of the program. Some voiced their concerns at the meeting.

There is contingency plan in place for parents who don't want their kids to participate in the program. But none have chosen that option.

The Board of Education has yet to make a decision. Principal Taylor will present more findings at the next board meeting.
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Learning and discipline. Those are the two things educators cite as reasons Van Devender Middle School went to single-gender classes two years ago in certain grades. But a pupil we spoke to, who is about to attend middle school this year, cited another reason.

" It's real hard for the teachers to focus," says fifth-grader Destiny Fleshman, because the kids are sitting there talking about who they're dating or someone they like."

It has been followed in early middle school grades in four courses of study: language arts, math, science and social studies. Van Devender hopes to extend it in all of its three grades this coming school year. But first, the Wood County Board of Education is required to review the policy.

"According to No Child Left Behind, every two years, we have to make an extensive data collection, look at the results, and determine whether it should be continued or not continued," says Steve Taylor, Principal, Van Devender Middle School. "Basically, this is the preliminary report for that. The letter from the ACLU, coming when it did...I'm sure there will be some discussion of that, also."

That letter, sent to three West Virginia county school systems, stated the single-gender classes violated federal laws, and suggesting the aclu might go to court over the matter. One of the three, Kanawha County schools, has decided to discontinue the practice in the coming year. Taylor says public reaction is another matter.

"We believe there are kids coming from outside of Vandy, who want to be part of the program. In the two years we have instituted it, we have never had a parent come in and not want their child to participate, which is something that every parent has a right to do."

Taylor says that, at least initially, test scores and discipline problems have improved since the system went into place.


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  • by Anonymous on Jun 29, 2012 at 03:56 PM
    These gender based classes are not for every grade of school. 6th grade through 8th grade are critical times in a young adults life. The kids are going through puberty and trying to figure out where they belong. You need to focus their learning at this critical point in their schooling.
  • by Just A Mom on Jun 29, 2012 at 02:29 AM
    There is such a simple answer to this problem. When classes for the year are set during the prior year and the parents approve their childs schedule. Each parent can check single gender or blended gender based classes. The school admin. can set accordingly based on what the needs of all the students. When I was in middle school the only class that was single sex was P.E. I think I would have enjoyed being in some classes that were single gender based.
  • by Kat Location: Parkersburg on Jun 28, 2012 at 11:24 PM
    Seriously if u want your child separated in school then send them to a private school. Like I said once if you separate them in school how are they going to work together in the workplace. So witch ones are we calling stupid since it being stated one learns better then the other. Oh ya and the option that the child doesn't have to be separated if they chose not to. Tell me were do they put that child if they already have all the classes separated. Oh and the fact of what do u do with the gay kids. So are we going to separate the skinny kids from the fat kids, the sports players from the non sports players. This is all crazy everyone should be treated the same and teachers need to learn to teach. Oh ya and is the female teachers teaching the girls and the male teachers teaching the boys. Remember they learn differently so the same sex should be teaching them also.
  • by Kat Location: Parkersburg on Jun 28, 2012 at 11:08 PM
    Ok really is this how we are going to teach are kids. So are u telling me we should separate boys from girls in school. Next will it be white from blacks or different cultured people from each other because they learn different. This makes no sence to me. Ok so maybe some of the grades did improve but how will these kids learn to work in the workplace together if u separate them durning school or are we going to try to separate them from that also. I'm telling u this might be working out for now but it won't stay that way. I was in disbelief when I was told this was going on in my daughters school, oh by the way she missed the split between the boys and girls.she was in the 8th grade class and even though she was in classes with the boys she still seemed to keep her GPA 3.6-4.0.
  • by james Location: parkersburg on Jun 28, 2012 at 07:11 PM
    yes i may not have the best grammer or puctuation but u know what unlike u i got my name out here and for ur info i have done something with my life.. i was saverly hurt defending my country and then its people like you who try and proof read everyone stuff and try to correct them grow a pair and show who u are i dont see u standing up and trying to get to the bottom i see it as ur just trying to stir stuff up.. and for your info if we have these gender based classes how are the students going gain any communication skills with the oposite sex.. and for another out of all classes GYM should be the gender based classes but nooo lets have them together in the one class where critisizem is more likely to happen so u know what u can say what u want about how i speak because i can go to bed knowing that im defending whats wright and apparently u cant if all u can do is sit on here and try to corect everyone for the way they speak their minds well all im gonna say now is HAVE A GRATE DAY!!
  • by Kudos... on Jun 28, 2012 at 08:15 AM
    To Vandy and the Wood County BOE for giving their students the option of enrolling in gender-specific classes. VandyMom makes a solid point. There are many private successful gender-specific schools, and there is a reason for that. My eldest son went to Vandy before these classes were an option. Had they been available, he would have been in them. This is a crucial transitional time for children, and one in which hormones can easily distract. I applaud Vandy for providing these opportunities. While I normally support the ACLU and its endeavors, this is one that I am not behind at all. I agree with VandyMom also regarding her stance on the vaccinations. Considering the rise in autism and how new some of these required vaccines are, it makes me very uncomfortable to have some of the administered to my children, but what choice do I have? As a working parent, homeschooling is not an option. Therefore, the only way that my children can get an education is if I adhere to the laws that require I force my sons to get shot up with chemicals that could potentially damage them, or their future children, and have no recourse. How about that ACLU? Unbelievable.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 28, 2012 at 06:15 AM
    I think some of the people posting on here should consider going back to school and take an English class, regardless of whether it's gender-based, to learn how to communicate effectively and correctly in their native language. Jeesh.
  • by VandyMom Location: Parkersburg on Jun 27, 2012 at 09:16 PM
    I support the gender based education 100%. Private single sex schools would cease to exist if they were not effective in a positive way.The Vandy students are NOT being segregated but seperated for Math,English,Science & Social Studies.They share all of the other classes and lunch.ACLU should focus on real issues with the public school system like the mandated vaccines.I had the choice to send my child to a differant school-no choice on the vaccines.
  • by James Location: parkersburg on Jun 27, 2012 at 04:06 PM
    hello my name is james i have sisters that go to vandy and i watched the news yes there was interviews for those who agree and i for one know for a fact that there was people there at the bored meeting that was against the Gender based classes and they was not given the oportunity to be interviewed i dont understant what the problem is when i was in schol i graduated with a 3.8 gpa and i surly wasnt in no Gender based classed i also was in the U.S. army and that wasnt Gender based this is the most rediculus thing ive ever heard im all for whats best for the student and future students at vandy or any school but i dont see this being the solution well here i am proposing anyone and everyone to send me any input at all rather FOR or AGAINST this to my email jamesblack24@yahoo.com because i myself will be taking action with my family to be heared i will be going around the vandevender school district taking a servey and a potition on this topic and it will be heared please feel free to coment in my email!!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 27, 2012 at 07:05 PM in reply to James
      I believe it was mentioned if parents didn't want their child in a gender based class their child didn't have to be in it. So it seems a lot of hoopla is being created when the parents didn't ask for their child to be put in a regular class. I don't believe for one minute being in a gender based class causes a student to fail. The subject matter doesn't change. The only difference is all the students are of the same sex. Candy has had a problem meeting education standards for years. If the WCS system wants to try gender based classes to see if that will help their students learn better I would think most parents would welcome a tool to help provide their child with the best education possible. Too many parents today are not actively involved in their child's education until they want to raise a stink when a lawsuit is mentioned.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 27, 2012 at 07:18 PM in reply to James
      James---with your 3.8 GPA I would think you would have proofread your post before hitting submit. For example it was a board meeting not bored meeting (even if it was boring). Also it is ridiculous not rediculus. I I will give you a pass on school as that may have just been a typo. I won't even get into the lack of punctuation.
    • reply
      by Student on Jun 27, 2012 at 09:25 PM in reply to James
      Well, you have terrible grammar. Your entire paragraph is one sentence. Maybe you would have better grammar if you had been in gender based classes. Perhaps you should go back to school and learn some grammar.(:
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Jun 28, 2012 at 07:00 PM in reply to Student
        She was in a gender base class. With one exception when teacher didnt want to deal with her she was shipped to the boys gender base. Maybe you should not respond so mean to a 12 year old who was trying to put her percpect in words.
  • by ERIC Location: PARKERSBURG on Jun 27, 2012 at 02:22 PM
    WHY IS IT U WONT PUT US ON HERE WE OPOSE GENDER BASED CLASSES WHY IS THIS ONESIDED ON YOUR NEWS CAST I AM GOING TO PAPERS IF I AM NOT HEARD I WAS AT BOARD MEETING WAS ALL ONE SIDED WHY NOT INTERVIEW THOSE OF US WHO OPOSE
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 27, 2012 at 03:08 PM in reply to ERIC
      I believe you are overreacting. If you read the newspaper article it gives statements made by both Mary Cross & William George. So your side has been heard even though some of us without children in the school system disagree with both of them.
      • reply
        by eric on Jun 27, 2012 at 06:40 PM in reply to
        but wtap is black balling and is not right
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 27, 2012 at 07:06 PM in reply to ERIC
      Instead of complaining why don't you make a post with your side of the story.
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