Money, Scheduling Issues Force Gender Separation Of Woodall Students
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma - Some parents claim Woodall Public Schools is violating their kids’ rights by separating classes by gender.
The superintendent said money and scheduling issued are forcing sixth and eighth graders to spend the majority of their school day separated into single gender classes, but parents worry it’ll bad for their children’s socializing skills.
Monday, as Woodall Public School teachers get their classrooms ready for students the school year, parents like Bridget Dry showed up a few days early to voice their concerns.
"If I wanted my daughters to be just with girls all day long then I would put them in a private school that wasn't co-ed,” she said.
After the meeting, however, many of the parents left feeling better about the situation.
"They have enough socializing. I don't send my kids here for a social life I send them here for an education,” parent Keith Danner said.
Superintendent Linda Clinkenbeard said the school district has lost $250,000 over the past few years because of budget cuts at both the state and federal levels.
She said to save between $45,000 and $60,000, the district decided to not hire a new teacher when one retired last year.
"She was a teacher districts love to have because she was a career teacher, she was highly qualified in many different subject areas,” Clinkenbeard said.
Which meant she was very flexible and could teach a variety of subjects; something the district doesn't have this school year which is why five classes of the day in 6th and 8th grade will only have either boys or girls in the classroom.
"I just didn't anticipate it [separating boys and girls] being an issue,” she said.
Daniel said, "It’s really hard for schools to make ends meet and I can understand where she is coming from."
One of the parents’ big concerns was when will their kids be able to socialize and mingle with the other gender? But Clinkenbeard said they will have plenty of time.
"They still have those opportunities before and after school," she said.
"If they want to try something out and see if it works out then fine, if not, then maybe change it back next year," Danner said.
Parent Joey Gregory said, "It could be the best thing that happened to this school, it could not be.”
Historically, boys and girls in every grade at Woodall have been separated during PE and another class, so that's nothing new, but they aren't used to five.
The superintendent does think there may be something she can do to mix up the sixth-grade classes, but nothing can be done for the eighth graders.