Tuesday, July 12, 2011

78 Idaho School Districts Named in Title IX Complaint

First Washington, then Oregon, now Idaho. The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights recently received a complaint (pdf here -- it's 600 pages) citing 100 high schools in 78 of the 115 school districts in the state, charging them with violating Title IX for failing to provide equitable athletic opportunities to female students. This is the third northwestern state in recent months in which OCR has been asked to look into Title IX violations at dozens of school districts statewide. Like the others, the complaint is based on data mined from OCR's most recent Civil Rights Data Collection report, which provides evidence of disparities in participation rates as well as evidence of school districts "padding" their participation rates by including activities (namely, sideline cheerleading and dance) that are not comparable to varsity athletics in terms of their competitive schedule. From these data, the complaint alleges violations of prong one's proportionality standard. It then uses OCR data over time to cite school districts with declining opportunities for girls, suggesting violations of prong two's requirement of program expansion for the underrepresented sex. Finally, the complaint sites examples of school districts failing to offer sports that are sanctioned by the state athletic association as evidence of unmet interest, which would violate prong three.

The press has not reported on the person filing the complaint, as government regulations protect anonymity of complainants. However, unlike lawsuits filed in federal court, complaints to OCR may be raised by anyone.

Is Montana next?