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Is Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s plan to spend $20 million for minority male students legal? Now even more people have opinions about it. In a letter yesterday to Bowser, the District’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union warned that the proposed new boys’ school could violate Title IX restrictions. Then this morning, Bowser and Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh got heated again over the plan during the mayor’s breakfast with the D.C. Council.

The plan, proposed by D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, would spend $20 million on the east of the Anacostia River school, a literacy mentoring program, and grants meant to help black and Latino boys. Henderson insists that DCPS considered Title IX, which restricts gender-biased discrimination in education, before announcing the program last month.

In her letter to Bowser, Henderson, and Attorney General Karl Racine, Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, executive director of ACLU of the Nation’s Capital, asks whether the District has already accounted for Title IX. (Racine is still working on his opinion about the school and Title IX).

“We question whether an all-male prep school is the most effective way to address racial disparities in education achievement,” Hopkins-Maxwell writes.

Bowser said today that she hasn’t read the letter yet.

(Also weighing in, albeit less momentously, is the New York Civil Rights Coalition, a group beloved of Fox News. In a letter to Racine, the group’s director writes that he thinks the new school might discriminate against white and Asian-American students.)

The debate over the school spilled over into this morning’s the mayoral breakfast. Cheh, who asked Racine earlier this month for an opinion on the school’s Title IX compliance, continued to push for programs for minority girls as well.

“Girls and women are sometimes left to the side,” Cheh said. “They’re sometimes invisible.”

Bowser told Cheh that she had no interest in promoting the boys’ program at minority girls’ expense.

“I was one of those little black girls,” Bowser said. “And I assure you that I have a focus on making sure that those girls can grow up on and have strong families.”

Bowser and Cheh also clashed over Cheh’s decision to take her Title IX question public in an open letter to Racine, rather that asking her administration privately. Bowser pointed out to councilmembers that her office was located in the same building as their own.

“I would appreciate a call, a knock on the door,” Bowser said. “And not have to read it in the newspaper or watch it on Fox 5.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery