Wednesday, January 11, 2023
SCOTUS Asks SG to Weigh in on Granting Cert for NC Charter School Case Mandating Girls Wear Skirts
Supreme Court Could Consider Charter School Dress Code
The Supreme Court is asking the Biden administration to weigh in on whether it should take up a case over a North Carolina charter school’s dress code requiring its girl students to wear skirts or dresses.
In a brief order Monday, the justices invited U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar to weigh in on whether the court should take up that case, Charter Day School v. Peltier, one of several major court cases in recent years that challenge school dress code policies as sexist and discriminatory.
Charter Day School, a K-8 public charter school operated by a private contractor in Leland, North Carolina, says it seeks to provide a “classical, traditional-values-based education,” enforced in part with a dress code designed to promote “mutual respect between boys and girls.” The case centers around the school’s policy, blocked by a federal court, requiring girls to wear a skirt, skort or jumper to school. ***
In 2019, District Judge Malcolm Howard ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, and prohibited the school from enforcing the skirt requirement. Both parties appealed the case to a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which ruled that dress codes treating boys and girls differently violated Title IX, but that the school was not an actor of the state and thus couldn’t be sued on constitutional grounds for its dress code policies.
The full 4th Circuit reheard the case and largely ruled against the school in a 10-6 ruling in June 2022, finding that the school is a state actor and thus violated the Equal Protection Clause with its skirt requirement. The ruling remanded whether the policy violated Title IX back to the district court.
Judge Barbara Milano Keenan wrote the court’s opinion and noted that “nothing in the Equal Protection Clause prevents public schools from teaching universal values of respect and kindness.”
“But,” she continued, “those values are never advanced by the discriminatory treatment of girls in a public school. Here, the skirts requirement blatantly perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes as part of the public education provided to North Carolina’s young residents.”
In September 2022, Charter Day School asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.