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The American Civil Liberties Union, a major opponent of single-gender schools and classes, warns districts against going down that route because they are likely to bump up against civil rights and education laws, including Title IX, which bars sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal funds.

The organization has challenged assertions that boys and girls learn differently and need different educational methods, one of the justifications districts make for creating such schools.

LANSING - Two years after implementing separate core subject classrooms for boys and girls at Lansing’s Willow Elementary, the district’s Board of Education voted Thursday night to suspend the practice. The district fell afoul of federal officials because it didn’t seek their approval prior to implementing the plan, according to Lansing Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul.

Doing so would have required the district to explain its goal of closing an achievement gap between male and female students and backing it up with data.“It was really a technical problem,” Caamal Canul said.

Similar differences were seen in math: 75 percent of 6th graders in single-gender students passed, compared with 52 percent of students in co-ed.

Five Lansing schools were released from the state's priority list earlier this year: Eastern, Everett, Averill, Reo and Riddle.

Board of Education President Rachel Lewis praised the district after Thursday's meeting for its willingness to try new strategies."I'm glad as a district we are trying to think outside the box in terms of student achievement," Lewis said.

In Louisiana and West Virginia, the districts returned to co-educational environments as part of out-of-court settlements, Sherwin said; two cases were dismissed on procedural grounds.

Public school districts are not barred under federal law from offering single-sex schools, but districts have to provide comparable opportunities to both sexes. " "I am going to make a lizard," another girl said.

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The school uses Project Lead the Way curriculum, which features hands-on and project-based-learning experiences. ("Fierce females" include first ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama and Sarah Martinez Tucker, the CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative and a former undersecretary of education.) The school also has an extended day. The results were extremely promising, according to Clarita Rivera, the principal of girls' academy, and Dawn Walker, the principal of the boys'.

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