Given how poorly America’s public education system serves our boys and young men, an innovative proposal for an all-boys high school sounds sensible.

However, the usual suspects are lining up to challenge the plan. The Washington Times reporter Andrea Noble files this report:

With D.C. Public Schools graduating less than half of its black male high school students, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s plan to close the achievement gap by establishing an all-boys high school earned high praise from lawmakers and educators when it was announced last month.

But concern over the plan’s legality is mounting. The American Civil Liberties Union is questioning the educational model that officials say threatens to run afoul of federal protections to ensure equality for young women.

Operating a single-sex school in and of itself isn’t illegal, but according to U.S. Department of Education regulations, public schools that segregate by gender must offer “substantially equal” benefits for the opposite sex or fall under an exemption offered for stand-alone public charter schools.

The devil is in the details for the ACLU, which nationally has a track record of fighting single-sex education proposals believed to be unlawful. The American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital sent a letterTuesday to Ms. Bowser praising the effort to address racial disparities among student achievement but questioning how the District will run the all-boys school, which is scheduled to open in the 2016-2017 school year, and how it will balance benefits for girls.

“How are they going to target students for admission? Will non-black and Latino students be able to apply? How will the curriculum be different?” said Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, executive director of the local chapter, rattling off questions that could stir up legal turmoil.

D.C. Public Schools spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said many of the plan’s practical details, including whether the school would occupy an existing building or be built from scratch, are still being worked out.

The all-boys school is part of a $20 million Empowering Males of Color initiative announced by Ms. Bowser and D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson to boost academic achievement and graduation rates among male black and Hispanic students. The initiative will be at least partially funded through private donations and will include components such as an enhanced mentoring program and targeted grants to schools to improve academic development and family engagement.

At the Jan. 20 announcement, D.C. Public Schools officials said they will partner with Urban Prep Academies, a nonprofit that runs three successful all-boys high schools in Chicago. The D.C. school would be located east of the Anacostia River and serve about 500 students.