GLAA alerts Cafritz to omission in Public Charter School policiesGay and Lesbian Activists Alliance
P.O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013
March 7, 2001
Ms. Peggy Cooper Cafritz
D.C. Board of Education
825 North Capitol Street, N.E., 9th floor
Washington, D.C. 20002-4232
Dear Ms. Cafritz:
I am writing to call your attention to a mistake that appears in the Board of Education's "Notice of Final Rulemaking" for "Chapter 9, Public Charter School Policies," published in the February 23, 2001 edition of the D.C. Register.
Section 915 deals with "Admissions." Subsection 915.2 reads, in relevant part: "A public charter school may not limit enrollment on the basis of a student's race, color, religion, national origin, language spoken, intellectual or athletic ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, or status as a student with special needs."
This language fails to conform with the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977, which specifically bans discrimination in educational institutions on a number of grounds not mentioned in subsection 915.2. The additional grounds that need to be incorporated are: sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, family responsibilities, political affiliation, and source of income.
Our organization was founded 30 years ago next month. Our first major political victory was to persuade our elected Board of Education in 1972 to ban all forms of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in D.C. public schools. That ban, as well as bans against many other kinds of arbitrary discrimination, was extended to all D.C. schools the following year through what is now known as the Human Rights Act of 1977. We are all the more distressed to see that these landmark commitments against bigotry have apparently been erased from our school system's institutional memory.
We ask you and your colleagues to take speedy action to correct this unfortunate oversight, and to ensure that both the spirit and the letter of the D.C. Human Rights Act are reflected throughout the District's educational system. Please notify us when the rule has been corrected and a "Corrected Notice of Final Rulemaking" has been submitted for publication in the Register.
Thank you, and best wishes.
cc: All Board of Education Members
The Honorable Anthony Williams, Mayor
All D.C. Councilmembers
Philip Pannell, Special Assistant to the Mayor
Charles Holman, Director, Office of Human Rights