The US Department of Education has announced that its Office for Civil Rights has reached an agreement with four school districts to ensure that girls get equal athletic opportunities to male students. The four districts are: the Wake County Public School System in Raleigh, North Carolina; the Deer Valley Unified School District in Phoenix, Arizona; the Columbus City Schools in Columbus, Ohio; and the Houston Independent School District in Houston, Texas.
These four agreements represent resolution to some of the 12 complaints filed by the National Women’s Law Center, which alleged the districts concerned were discriminating against female students. School are required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to accommodate the athletic interests and abilities of their female students to the same degree that they accommodate those of male students.
The OCR made no findings of lack of compliance in the case of the four districts who worked voluntarily with the OCR to find a resolution agreement.
“Even as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, we must still remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure equal opportunity for girls in education,” said Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for the Office for Civil Rights. “The agreements reached in these four cases are representative of the important Title IX work that OCR continues to do, and should provide assurance to the thousands of girls in these school districts and across the nation that fundamental fairness on the playing field and in all areas of education is within their reach. OCR will continue to vigorously work to ensure equal opportunity.”
The agreement between the OCR and the districts requires them to commit to ensuring equal opportunity for female students at its high schools going forward. As part of this response, each district will assess whether there are unmet interests and abilities among its female body, and if so will then take steps to address this lack of opportunity.
To make ongoing assessment easier districts are also required to develop a procedure whereby students can request the addition of new sports or levels of sport at the school concerned.
OCR will closely monitor the districts’ implementation of the agreements and will not close the monitoring of them until OCR determines that the districts have fulfilled the terms of the agreements and are in compliance with the provisions of Title IX that were at issue in these complaints.
Complaints remain open against: the New York City Department of Education; the Chicago Public School District #299; the Worcester Public Schools, Massachusetts; the Henry County School District, Georgia; the Clark County School District, Nevada; the Oldham County Schools, Kentucky; the Irvine Unified School District, California; and the Sioux Falls School District #49-5, South Dakota.