Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Title IX Complaint Filed Against Beaverton, Oregon School District

The Beaverton (Oregon) School District has been named in an anonymous Title IX complaint challenging gender inequality in the number of athletic opportunities at the district's five high schools.  According to the complaint, none of the schools offer athletic opportunities proportionate to enrollment, nor can show a history of improving opportunities for underrepresented girls, nor are they offering all of the sports sanctioned by state's athletic association (suggesting probable unmet interest). It is now up to the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to decide whether these allegations are sufficient to warrant investigation. OCR has been inconsistent about whether to open an investigation based on similarly-structured allegations in other complaints. Sometimes, particularly in the context of "mass complaints" that OCR sometimes receives, it requires a more specific allegation of unmet interest  As I've said before, I believe that standard puts too much burden on complainants, and I hope that OCR declines to use it in the context of a complaint targeting a single school district.

In addition to dealing with the OCR, Beaverton School District also has to respond to parents' advocating for equal treatment of girls' teams. Some mothers of middle school softball players  complained recently to the school board about inferior playing facilities available to girls at Beaverton's Westview High School.  The softball field at Westview lacks electricity, which limits the fundraising potential of the concession stand and makes it difficult to plug in a pitching machine.  Coaches must bring in a generator to run batting practice. Additionally the softball team's batting cages are not enclosed by walls and the field does not have a working scoreboard.  In contrast, the boys' baseball field is wired for electricity, and has fully enclosed batting cages and a new scoreboard.  The mothers have asked the district to move quickly on the matter of electricity, and to put in place a plan for resolving the other issues.