Monday, September 30, 2013

Agreements reached... Portland, Maine where an investigation by OCR found that girls received fewer opportunities for participation in interscholastic sports than their male peers. The investigation also revealed some disparities in facilities. Under the agreement, the district will add girls' volleyball for the 2014-15 season and ensure equitable locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities. Administrators will also begin a process of assessing whether the district meets either prong one (proportionality) or prong three (interest) in determining the sport opportunities girls in Portland's schools receive. the Union County (South Carolina) School District. Interestingly chairperson of the school board BJ McMorris announced at a meeting last week that OCR found no merit to a complaint filed in December 2012. Curious announcement given that a voluntary resolution agreement would not seem necessary for a complaint with no merit. Sure, some things will be improved, the public was told at last week's meeting, but nothing was ever really wrong was the message (along with a little passing of the buck--see below).
One of the issues with the resolution agreement process is the "no fault" aspect. Whatever semantic dance administrators--at all levels--are doing, an agreement means something was wrong that needs to be fixed.
What happened in South Carolina was that one part of the complaint in which the complainant argued that there were gender-based differences in punishments meted out to student-athletes was found to have no merit. Other aspects of the complaint and the OCR investigation did not, however, find Union County to be in tip-top Title IX shape.
Superintendent Kristi Woodall said she felt bad for the taxpayers who have to foot the bill for the work the district had to do compiling documents and otherwise accomodating OCR during the investigation. It was a throw-OCR-under-the-bus move. There have been plenty of times that OCR does not invesitgate a complaint because it does not seem to have merit.
Woodall is blaming OCR for doing its job and not taking any responsibility for its own non-compliance.
But OCR fired back seemingly immediately after the above-linked article was published in the local newspaper. A letter to the paper (which also bears some responsibility for not questioning a resolution to an proclaimed non-situation) included this statement:
“...OCR’s investigation determined that the district failed to provide female athletes equal opportunities with respect to: equitable facilities, including practice and competitive softball fields; strength training facilities and locker rooms; laundering of uniforms; pregame meals; scheduling and number of games; and maintenance of uniforms.
On Sept. 24, 2013, the district signed a Resolution Agreement to address these Title IX compliance concerns. OCR expects to issue a letter of findings, with accompanying Resolution Agreement, by the end of this week.” Gloversville, New York after a January 2011 complaint triggered an OCR investigation. This is another case of spinning the situation with the superintendent of the Gloversville Enlarged School District saying that OCR found nothing wrong but that the district would be making some improvements. A project in which many of the district's fields and facilities were renovated dealt with some of the issues raised in the complaint, but the district will still be required to: schedule some girls' softball games on the lighted fields, fix the drainage on the softball fields, and make sure that a shared field is properly prepared for each respective sport that uses it.