Federal Appeals Court Threatens Charter School Autonomy

A decision in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in North Carolina has banned charter schools from requiring girls to wear skirts. The court said it was unconstitutional for Charter Day School (CDS) to keep the skirt requirement in place because the school is a “state actor” and can’t have gender-based dress codes because they violate equal-protection laws — welcome to America.

The crucial part of the ruling is that charter schools are “state actors.” This could end charter schools’ independence and cause them to disappear altogether. The danger is that the state could encroach further because it is now directly involved in the dress code.

The court said, “Ultimately, the evidence showed that the skirts requirement has restricted the extent to which the plaintiffs can obtain the academic, social and physical benefits of their education at CDS, and has exposed them to ongoing psychological harm and discriminatory treatment solely on the basis of gender.”

The defendants in the appeal are comprised of far-left organizations, including AFSCME, ACLU, and the American Federation of Teachers. None of them are concerned about students, but they care deeply about removing the rights of charter schools.

The court continued, “The record thus conclusively supports the district court’s determination that the plaintiffs have been denied their constitutional guarantee of Equal Protection, in violation of the Supreme Court’s decades-old decision to root out differential and harmful treatment based on gender stereotypes.”

Would the court also remove the requirement that “boys may not wear jewelry and must keep hair ‘neatly trimmed and off the collar… and not below the top of the ears or eyebrows,’” or is this just about skirts? It’s confusing to remove one gender-based requirement while leaving the others in place.

The other requirements weren’t touched on because this isn’t about gender at all. It’s about independent education.

Charter schools are an option, not a requirement. If the students aren’t comfortable, they can go to another school or speak to the school board and try to make changes.