PARKERSBURG- The superintendent of Wood County Schools said he will respond next month to an American Civil Liberties Union request concerning single-gender classes, but added no changes have so far been made in programs for this fall.
Meanwhile, the ACLU and Cabell County Schools this week issued conflicting press releases, with the ACLU claiming the Cabell board of education voted to end all single-sex classes and officials with the school system saying no such vote occurred.
In May, the ACLU of West Virginia sent letters to three West Virginia School systems - Kanawha, Cabell and Wood-demanding an immediate end to gender-specific classes at five schools. The letters were part of a national campaign aimed at ending gender-specific classes in public schools.
Wood County Superintendent Pat Law said Friday officials are still working with legal counsel to determine whether gender-specific core classes at VanDevender Middle School are in accordance with federal law.
Law said the original letter from the ACLU gave very little time for a response. Officials contacted the ACLU and Law said the school system plans to give a response by July 6.
"We are continuing to study our program, asking the question does it fit with the federal guidelines that exist for these kinds of program," Law said. "We don't have that answer at this point, but we have not changed the schedule for next year."
This fall Vandy is scheduled to offer all core classes- math, science, social studies and reading/language arts -as separate girls and boys classes for grades 6-8.
In a press release issued Wednesday, the ACLU of West Virginia claimed credit for the canceled single-sex classes at Enslow Middle School and Barboursville Middle School in Cabell County.
In the press release, the ACLU of West Virginia says the school board voted "to suspend a single-sex program at Barboursville Middle School after the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of West Virginia identified serious legal concerns with the program, including reliance on outdated sex stereotypes."
"Hopefully this will send a signal to schools across the state that single-sex programs are not a magic bullet," Brenda Green, executive director of the ACLU of West Virginia, said in the release.
Officials with Cabell County Schools, however, said the ACLU's press release is incorrect.
"The board of education has taken no such action," Cabell Superintendent Bill Smith said in a press release Thursday. "The item was on our agenda for discussion only. As a matter of fact, board members at the meeting were very positive about the program."
Smith said the ACLU misinterpreted his report to the board Tuesday that no single-gender classes are planned by schools for the 2012-2013 school year.
"I informed the board that due to scheduling challenges at Enslow Middle School and a change in principals at Barboursville Middle School, that no single gender classes were being planned by the schools for the coming year. However, I did let them know that these programs have been very positively received by students, staff, and parents, and that we would entertain any requests to establish single gender classes in the future."
In the release, Smith also stated he believed both programs were within federal guidelines and the school system would work to strengthen its single-gender curriculum policy in case other schools would want to pursue that as an option in the future.
Law declined to comment on the decision to end the Cabell County programs.
"They know their logistics and their situation better than we do," he said.