In 2019, Judge Malcolm J. Howard of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina declared the uniform policy unconstitutional, saying the skirt requirement “causes the girls a burden that the boys don’t carry simply because they are female.”
In 2021, a panel of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned the court’s verdict, court documents show. That decision was overturned by a vote by the full court of judges in the most recent appeal. had to determine whether the charter school was a public body, the documents show.
Charter Day School, a tuition-free school with more than 900 students in southeastern North Carolina, argued that it was private and therefore the Constitution’s equal protection clause, which protects individuals from discrimination by public entities, does not apply. used to be.
But the school receives 95 percent of its funding from federal, state and local government agencies, the judges said, and it must follow the same guidelines as public schools, which cannot have discriminatory dress codes. While the court settled the question of whether Charter Day’s dress code violated the 14th Amendment, a district court will reconsider at a later date whether it also violated Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination.
Galen Sherwin, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project who represented the plaintiffs, said that while the ruling was limited to North Carolina, she believes it could have broader implications for dress codes elsewhere.
“It’s very important on the issue of charter schools and the availability of constitutional protections,” Ms Sherwin said of the ruling in a telephone interview. “Certainly, it should alert public charter schools across the country to comply.”