County rethinks same-sex schools

GREENSBORO, Ga. --- Greene County public school officials are rethinking their plan to separate boys and girls in every class next school year.

A revised proposal expected within two weeks likely will keep genders mixed at the county high school and allow parents to choose whether to enroll younger children in the single-gender classes, schools Superintendent Shawn McCollough said last week.

Officials in the struggling school district last month stirred up national press coverage and mixed, often angry reactions from parents when they suddenly announced the single-gender schools mandate.

Although Mr. McCollough presented the plan as a bold, history-making move to lift dismal test scores, some experts said the plan as approved would violate federal civil rights law because it wouldn't give parents any choice.

Some parents in the largely black and low-income area around Greensboro balked at the plan because board members didn't take any public input before unanimously pushing it through.

But trouble for officials began shortly after the Feb. 4 decision.

Two school board members rescinded their approval, saying they weren't aware of the extent of the overhaul, and moved last month to overturn it. They were defeated in a 3-2 vote.

And parents continued to speak out against the plan at contentious school board meetings.

Mr. McCollough later apologized for not taking any input before recommending the plan to board members.

But he said he remained firm in his belief that the single-gender model was backed by research and would help students focus on learning.

Regardless of the details of Mr. McCollough's revised plan, it's likely to include big changes for Greene County pupils next year.

The original plan also called for school uniforms and a retooling of the system's middle school model, which Mr. McCollough has said doesn't work.