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Class Act

Star Tribune writers tracking education issues

Visitation School removes coed option from middle school

No boys will be allowed at the Visitation School’s coed catholic middle school in Mendota Heights next year.

Minnesota’s only all-girl’s Catholic school will change its coed sixth grade into an all-girls class. The Catholic school is currently an all-girls school from seventh through 12th grade. 

Visitation's Lower School from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade will remain coed while its sixth grade will make the shift out of coed at the middle school level. 

Saint Thomas Academy will create a sixth grade to accommodate boys from the Visitation School.

Since 1873, Visitation has functioned as an all-girls school. In 1974, the Lower School began adding coed classes.

“We look forward to expanding the benefits of single-gender education to sixth grade in the coming year and beyond – and to continuing our close collaboration with Saint Thomas Academy,” Visitation Head of School Rene Gavic said in a news release.

Minn. Education Department withdraws proposed integration rule, including charter school integration piece

The Minnesota Department of Education is pulling out of its proposed rule for school integration, which included a piece that would have put charters under state integration plans for the first time.

A notice of withdrawn rules earlier this month said that Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius doesn't want to move forward until the state legislature tackles issues including school eligibility for the achievement and integration program.

Cassellius doesn't see eye-to-eye with the administrative law judge who rejected the state's integration plans in March, according to the notice. Judge Ann C. O'Reilly said that the department had overstepped its authority.

Cassellius disagrees that the department "lacks statutory authority" to loop in charter schools, the notice said.

Some issues need to be clarified after O'Reilly's report, the notice said, including whether inter-district integration efforts should be required and how American Indian student concentrations affect eligibility for the program.

"The Commissioner believes it would be inappropriate to propose further rule amendments until these issues are addressed by the state legislature," the notice said.

Elementary-level Twin Cities charter schools are more racially segregated than their Minneapolis, St. Paul and suburban school equivalents, a 2015 Star Tribune analysis found. More than three-quarters of Twin Cities charter elementary students go to schools with 80 percent or higher white or nonwhite student bodies, the Star Tribune reported.

The possibility of charters coming under integration plans has been hotly debated. Charter advocates say it would remove the pillar of school choice; other say that charters should be integrated, citing the benefits of school diversity.