Thursday, April 03, 2014

Texas School District Resolves Title IX Complaint

Last spring we blogged about a Title IX complaint filed by a coach against the Longview (Texas) Independent School District, alleging inequitable athletic opportunities for girls at Longview High School. We recently learned that the school district has entered into a voluntary agreement (.pdf) with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights resolving the issues raised in the complaint. 

As a result of the agreement, OCR will not need to complete its investigation or make any formal findings with respect to Longview's compliance with Title IX.  However, it appears from the information they already gathered that OCR would have likely found some violations. For instance, as the OCR noted in its letter to the complainant (.pdf), the district offered over twice as many athletic opportunities to boys than to girls, had not added a new sport for girls in at least twenty years, and had no process or procedure for gauging whether the opportunities that were available for girls were satisfying the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.  As a result, OCR probably would have found that Longview did not comply with Title IX's three-part test for measuring equity in the number of athletic opportunities for each sex.  Appropriately, the district has agreed to address this problem by assessing whether its female students have an interest in new sports that are not currently offered, or in having more teams in sports that are already offered, and to add new opportunities accordingly.

OCR's investigation had also already revealed some disparities in the quality of athletic facilities available to students of each sex.  In particular, the OCR noted disparities between baseball and softball facilities, which were the only ones used exclusively by students of one sex. Unlike the softball field, the baseball field has bathrooms, a press box, a sound system, and a concession stand.  The baseball field also has fancier dugouts and batting cages than those at the softball field. Notably, the school district has agreed to remedy these disparities by March 1, 2015

The district has also agreed to assess the assignment and compensation of coaches and the availability of equipment and supplies to ensure that any disparities between girls' and boys' teams are not the result of discrimination. 

All of the school district's obligations under the agreement are subject to OCR's monitoring and oversight.