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The Supreme Court Won’t Hear Charter School’s Skirt-mandate Case

The Supreme Court Won't Hear Charter School's Skirt-mandate Case

On Monday, the Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal from a North Carolina charter school that had attempted to implement a “chivalry dress code” by mandating that all female students wear skirts to school.

Social conservatives were hoping that the Supreme Court of the United States would remove charter schools from constitutional protections after allowing public vouchers to be utilized at religious schools last year.

This decision represents a victory for civil rights supporters. Charter schools exist in legal limbo since they are publicly funded yet privately managed; this case could have far-reaching repercussions for them.

Ria Tabacco Mar of the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in an email, “If accepted, Charter Day School’s argument that it should be free to violate students’ constitutional rights would have… threatened the freedoms of 3.6 million public charter school students nationwide.”

The tweet below verifies the news:

Two parents and a kid hired the ACLU to fight against the school’s clothing policy. Charter Day’s founder, Baker Mitchell, released a statement calling the declination “disappointing,” saying it would subject charter schools to “rules, regulations, and political machinations that have crippled government-run school systems” and endanger “the unique classical academic program that has served our students well for the past 24 years.”

Students’ rights against discrimination, censorship, and expulsion without a hearing are guaranteed under the Constitution, which can only be enforced against public institutions. All kids, regardless of race, have the right to an equitable education, and the Supreme Court has decided that schools cannot make students recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

The appeal court examined the specifics of North Carolina’s charter school system, noting that the state legislation defines charters as public schools available to all students, holds them to the standards of the state board of education, and provides government benefits to charter school personnel. The court remarked that 95% of Charter Day’s funding originates from the public sector.

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Charter schools in other states have similar regulations, while the specifics of the system vary from state to state. Charter Day, led by Texas, and nine other states petitioned the Supreme Court to find that public charter schools are not protected by the 14th Amendment’s equal protection guarantee.

Several religious groups also voiced worry, mainly because of threats to the operations of religiously affiliated adoption agencies, charities, and healthcare services. The brief filed by the Biden administration argued that the Supreme Court should not overturn the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit because doing so “would allow States to evade constitutional constraints by delegating core governmental functions to private entities.”

When comparing Charter Day to a Christian school in Maine that was granted access to federal funding in 2002, the administration made several distinctions. The Solicitor General’s Office of Maine stated that the state has a history of “relying on private schools to educate residents in sparsely populated areas” while allowing those institutions to maintain their autonomy. Not in North Carolina.

Voucher programs, which provide families money to spend at private institutions of their choice, have been effectively expanded by conservatives in various states to fund religious schools. Private schools may or may not be required to include students with disabilities, enroll all applicants, or follow anti-discrimination policies, depending on the state.

To avoid violating the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, proponents of religious education anticipated the Supreme Court would clear the way for the establishment of publicly funded religious charter schools. While the Supreme Court was considering the North Carolina case earlier this month, the first Christian charter school in the US was approved in Oklahoma.

It will start in the fall of 2018. St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School will act “as a genuine instrument of the Church” and will comply with federal civil rights laws only if doing so would not put church doctrine at odds with the law.

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The attorney general of this staunchly Republican state said it was a bad idea because it would force the state to approve schools that “most Oklahomans would consider reprehensible and unworthy of public funding.”

The school might have been forced to abandon the skirt policy even if the federal courts had determined that Charter Day was not a state actor. Whether or not the dress rule violated Title IX, which forbids s*x discrimination in publicly funded institutions, was left open by the 4th Circuit.

In seventh grade, Keely Burks challenged the school’s skirt regulation by circulating a petition. In a statement submitted for the case, Burks said that skirts prevented her from sitting or standing comfortably at any time of the year. She also mentioned that boys would make jokes about being able to peek up girls’ skirts during fire drills.

A member of faculty confiscated the petition. Burks and the parents of two other students filed a lawsuit against the school the following year. Mother Bonnie Peltier filed a lawsuit claiming her daughter, then 5 years old, suffered from discomfort while wearing a skirt.

Mitchell told her that the regulation was instituted in order “to preserve chivalry and respect among young women and men.” A boy’s place is “to hold the door open for the young ladies and to carry an umbrella to shield the young ladies from the rain,” he stated.

“I want [my daughter] to grow up knowing that she is as capable as her male classmates, that she can achieve as much as her male classmates can, and that she does not need her male classmates to protect her,” Peltier wrote in the suit.

Mitchell has expanded his Classical Charter campuses of America network to include four campuses in the state’s southeastern corner. In response to the 4th Circuit’s rule, schools started allowing girls to wear pants last school year.

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