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JONES v. BOARD OF EDUC. OF THE CITY SCH. DIST. OF

April 11, 1986

GLORIA SMALLS JONES, on behalf of her infant daughter, MICHELE; ELEANOR SIMMONS, on behalf of her infant daughter, SONYA; NORMA GARCIA, on behalf of her infant daughter, MARILISA PILALO; LOURDES R. GUANLAO, on behalf of her infant daughter, MARY; YVONNE MINO, on behalf of her infant daughter, VIRGINIA; CHRISTINA SNOW, on behalf of her infant daughter, TISHOMA SNOW WATSON, Plaintiffs, against THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK; JAMES F. REGAN, as President of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York; MIGUEL MARTINEZ, as Vice President of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York; JOSEPH G. BARKAN, STEPHEN R. FRANSE, ILENE IMPELLIZZERI, ROBERT F. WAGNER, JR., and MARJORIE LEWIS as members of the Board of Education of the City School District of New York; and NATHAN QUINONES, as Chancellor of the City School District of the City of New York, Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCLAUGHLIN

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

McLAUGHLIN, District Judge

This is a dispute between parents and education officials over the fate of a school. Plaintiffs bring this action under 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq. ("Title IX"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(2) ("Title VII"), and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. They seek to enjoin defendants from converting the all-female Washington Irving High School ("W.I.H.S.") into a coeducational institution. Defendants have moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(b). For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted.

 Facts

 Plaintiffs are parents of students currently enrolled at W.I.H.S. *fn1" , an all-girls public high school located in New York City. Defendants -- the New York City Board of Education (the "Board"), Schools Chancellor Nathan Quinones, and officers and members of the Board -- plan to convert W.I.H.S. to a coeducational school at the end of the current term. The following facts are not in dispute.

 W.I.H.S. is the last remaining single-sex high school in the New York City public school system. It is open to girls from all five boroughs and has no entrance requirements. Over ninety percent of its students are from low-income families. Its drop-out rate is 11.7% -- dramatically below the city-wide rate of 38.4% -- and between eighty-five and ninety percent of its students go on to post-secondary education.

 The Title IX Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq., prohibit educational programs receiving federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex. While the statute does not generally apply to high schools, it is applicable to "institutions of vocational education . . ." *fn2"

 The New York State Education Department Occupational Education Civil Rights Coordinating Unit (the "S.E.D.") is charged with ensuring that local school boards comply with their obligations under Title IX. The S.E.D. applies its own Standards Governing Civil Rights in Vocational Education Programs ("Standards") and the Guidelines established by the United States Office of Civil Rights and now published by the Department of Education ("O.C.R. Guidelines").

 During April and May 1983 the S.E.D. conducted an on-site review of several City High schools, including W.I.H.S. On July 11, 1984, Chancellor Quinones was informed of the preliminary findings of the S.E.D. It noted that, although W.I.H.S. was listed as an academic/comprehensive high school in the New York City Directory of High Schools, the school offered at least five programs of occupational/vocational training. And therein lay the rub: under the Standards and the O.C.R. Guidelines, the S.E.D. concluded, W.I.H.S. was an "institution of vocational education," 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a)(1), within the meaning of Title IX.

 If this characterization was accurate, of course, W.I.H.S. was subject to the prohibitions of the statute, and could no longer be maintained as a girls-only high school. On December 10, 1984, the Chancellor responded. He indicated that the Board agreed with the S.E.D. that W.I.H.S. was an institution of vocational education under the O.C.R. Guidelines. Accordingly, he added, "plans are being developed for the phasing out of the maintenance of [W.I.H.S.] as a single-sex high school" (Schonhaut Affidavit Exh. D at 2).

 On February 19, 1985, the S.E.D. issued its final findings, formally directing the Board to rectify the situation. At a public meeting on April 24, 1985, Deputy Chancellor Charles I. Schonhaut announced the Board's position and explained that a plan of coeducational education better accorded with the Chancellor's policy that no student should be denied access to a public school on the basis of sex. That policy, according to Mr. Schonhaut, rests in part on the belief that a coeducational school is a better educational environment because it reflects the society in which students will eventually have to live. The policy also furthers the Board's goal of eradicating sexual stereotypes.

 By letter dated June 5, 1985, Mr. Schonhaut informed the principal of W.I.H.S. that the school would become coeducational by September 1986. On August 30, 1985, the Board issued its Title IX Voluntary Compliance Plan #2 ("V.C.P."), in which it outlined its plan for the coeducation of W.I.H.S. It is currently in the process of updating the V.C.P.

 Recruitment of boys and girls for fall 1986 admission to W.I.H.S. began in October 1985. Certain building modifications -- such as boys' bathrooms and locker rooms -- are needed, and construction will begin in May 1986. Boys will be admitted to the ninth and tenth grades in September 1986.

 On January 31, 1986, this Court heard argument on plaintiffs' motion for preliminary relief enjoining the implementation of the coeducation plan. That motion was denied on the ground that no irreparable harm was shown. A briefing schedule on defendants' motion for summary judgment was set, and because changes at W.I.H.S. are due to take place soon, the Court agreed to decide the motion on an expedited basis.

 Discussion

 Plaintiffs have submitted a Niagara of material to document the educational benefits of attendance at an all-girls school. Their legal arguments, on the other hand, are perfunctory and conclusory. I discern three theories which they suggest entitle them to an injunction maintaining W.I.H.S. as a all-girls high school.

 I. Title IX

 Defendants have determined that W.I.H.S. is an "institution of vocational education" covered by Title IX. Consequently, the failure to open the school to students of both sexes would, in their judgment, be a violation of the statute. This might result in a cut-off of federal funds to the New York City school system. See 16 U.S.C. § 1682.

 Plaintiffs disagree that W.I.H.S. is a covered institution, and even if it were, they argue that Title IX would not require coeducation. Although Title IX states that no person shall be denied participation in an education program on the basis of sex, 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a), plaintiffs contend that the "intent" of that statute would be better served by keeping W.I.H.S. closed to boys. The parties have spilled a lot of ...


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