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Georgia county drops single-sex schools plan

A rural Georgia county plans to dump its plan to segregate all its schools by gender after  parents complained they weren't consulted, a school board member said Wednesday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A rural Georgia county plans to dump its plan to segregate all its schools by gender after opposition from parents who were outraged that they weren't consulted ahead of time, a school board member said Wednesday.

Greene County school officials will formally drop the plan at an April 14 meeting in favor of asking parents, teachers and staff members for their input, said the board member, Velicia Cobb.

The four-school county may decide to move forward with some single-sex schools as part of future plans, Cobb said.

"I think this is what should have been done first," said Cobb, who voted in favor of the conversion last month despite reservations. "Whenever you're trying to implement a plan like that at that magnitude, you need parents' buy-in for it to be successful."

Would have been first in nation
The county would have become the first school district in the nation to go entirely single-sex, with boys and girls in separate classrooms, in response to years of poor test scores, soaring dropout rates and high numbers of teenage pregnancies.

The plan touched off hundreds of parents who criticized Superintendent Shawn McCollough for pushing the measure through without first consulting them.

McCollough will not comment on the turnaround, district spokeswoman Judi Collins said. At a public forum last month, McCollough said the 2,000-student district was turning to single-sex education because it needed a fast, innovative approach after years of failures.

Federal law allows single-sex classrooms or schools, but parents must be given the option of publicly funded coeducation for their children.

U.S. Department of Education spokeswoman Samara Yudof said federal officials were working with Greene County school administrators to make sure the district's plans comply with federal law.

Some districts across the United States have adopted single-sex education since federal officials issued rules to ease the process in 2006. Nationally, at least 366 public schools are either entirely single-sex or have single-sex classrooms, said Leonard Sax, who heads the advocacy group National Association for Single Sex Public Education.