Tuesday, May 06, 2008

OCR Investigation Clears Scotts Valley

In December we noted that the Office for Civil Rights was investigating alleged Title IX violations at Scotts Valley Unified School District in California. An anonymous person had complained that the high school was violating Title IX by providing female athletes, including softball players, with inferior equipment, facilities, scheduling and coaching.

Yesterday, OCR released an investigation report in which it concluded that Scotts Valley was not in violation of Title IX. According to the Mercury News, the report acknowledged "individual instances of disparities favoring males or females within the athletic program" but determined that on the whole, they "do not show a pattern of disparities or 'second class status' for either gender." For instance, "while some teams had more or better equipment and supplies, and some sports used more athlete-owned equipment, these differences were not based on the sex of the athletes. While more boys teams had full sets of uniforms than girls teams, more girls teams had warm-ups and bags than boys teams."

Regarding a separate claim that Scotts Valley should have added a freshman girls soccer team, OCR concluded that, since there was no
"reasonable expectation of competition within the normal competitive region," the school did not run afoul of prong three, which measures compliance by the absence of unmet interest on the part of the underrepresented sex. It also apparently noted that the high school has a history of (in the reporter's words) "supporting expansion of athletic opportunities for girls' teams by approving new sports when there were enough students to support a [competitive] team." I'm not sure if this means that OCR found the high school to alternatively comply with prong two, which measures compliance by a history and continuing practice of expanding opportunities for the underrepresented sex. If so, this seems like a pretty watered down version of prong two, which I always understood to require schools to take a more active role in developing new opportunities that just waiting to be asked by an already-existing team.