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Los Angeles District Approves Plans For Two Girls-Only Schools

The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to open two all-girls schools in the 2016-17 school year, according to The Los Angeles Times.

One of the schools will be run by the district, while the other will be run by a district-authorized charter, the paper reported.  

In a statement, the district said that the Girls Academic Leadership Academy—or GALA—will be housed at the Los Angeles High School and will focus on science, technology, engineering and math.  

GALA's mission was driven by research showing that an all-girls STEM-focused school significantly improved those students' academic achievement, according to the district. The girls-only academy was also meant to reduce the "achievement and participation gap" between men and women in STEM fields, the district said.

"It is clear that within our district, our female student population is underserved in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics," Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines said in the statement. "Not only will this new school help our students discover their potential, think critically and develop important intellectual skills, it will also prepare them for college and beyond."

The Girls Academic Leadership Academy will debut for grades 6 to 9 and then expand to include grades 6 through 12.

The Los Angeles Times also reported that a second all-girls school was approved at the board meeting on Tuesday. The second school, the Girls Athletic Leadership School, or GALS, will be run by a district-authorized charter and will serve grades 6 to 8. It will begin with 125 students, according to the paper.

The district already has a middle school, Young Oak Kim Academy, where students are separated for core classes, the paper reported.

In answer to a question from a board member, Superintendent Cortines said that the district was also considering a single-gender academy for boys, but that the girls' academy had been two years in the making and was ready to go.

The debate around the merits of single-gendered schools is unsettled, and some districts have been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union for possible civil rights violations for pursuing single-gender schools, Motoko Rich reported in The New York Times last year.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidelines to help districts develop those options and programs without running afoul of Title IX, which bars discrimination based on sex in institutions that receive federal funds. 

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