OCR Finds State Agency Did Not Correctly Apply Title IX to Annual Reviews of Scholastic Athletic Programs

SOURCE: http://title-ix.blogspot.com/2017/09/ocr-finds-state-agency-did-not.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TitleIxBlog+%28Title+IX+Blog%29

OCR Finds State Agency Did Not Correctly Apply Title IX to Annual Reviews of Scholastic Athletic Programs

Posted: 29 Sep 2017 12:55 PM PDT

In Washington State, the state agency in charge of public schools (called the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, OSPI) receives federal funding and administers some of that funding to local school districts.  As such, OSPI is required to comply with Title IX and may not aid or perpetuate discrimination by funding school districts who do not comply with Title IX. To that end, OSPI monitors the Title IX compliance of its school districts. Among other things, OSPI collects and reviews the self-evaluations that it requires school districts to annually conduct of its athletics programs’ participation rates.

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights began an investigation into OSPI’s Title IX monitoring process in 2011, after receiving hundreds of complaints about Title IX violations in Washington’s public schools’ athletics programs. This week OCR announced its conclusion that OSPI was not properly applying the three-part test when reviewing the school districts’ self-evaluations of compliance.

The three-part test requires an athletic program subject to Title IX to either (1) ensure that percentage of athletic opportunities for each sex is substantially proportionate to the percentage of each sex in the student body; OR (2) that the program has a history and continuing practice of expanding opportunities for the underrepresented sex; OR (3) that the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex are being met.

OCR did not find any problems with how the OSPI was applying parts 2 or 3, but it did find fault with the way it determined compliance with part 1. In particular, OSPI only found that schools failed to comply with this part if it would have taken more than 15-20 (depending on the size of the school) new opportunities for the underrepresented sex to bring the school into proportionality. In contrast, OCR has said that except when disproportionality is caused by natural fluctuations in enrollment, the only time a school does not have to be in exact proportionality is if the number of new opportunities needed to reach proportionality is smaller than the number needed for any new viable team.

Given that there are lots of sports that can run with 15 or fewer students, it is not surprising that OCR found “some instances” where OSPI “perpetuated discrimination” prohibited by Title IX by permitting some school to pass the review when they should not have. OSPI is now obligated to modify its practice so that it applies the appropriate standard going forward, and is subject to monitoring by OCR to ensure it does so.

I thought this enforcement action was noteworthy because of its state-wide impact. In the past, complainants have tried to focuses OCR’s attention on widespread noncompliance by filing dozens of complaints at once against school districts who do not appear to comply with the first part of the three part test. OCR has found grounds to dismiss these complaints without investigation or resolution, probably because of the practical limitations of actually conducting all of those simultaneous investigations. But if OCR keeps close track of how state agencies that distribute federal funding are applying Title IX, the agency can have still have state-wide impact. I wonder if we will see more these kinds of investigations initiated in other states. 

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Civil Rights Coordinators Data

The employees designated to coordinate schools’ compliance with civil rights laws play an essential role in ensuring that all students in the United States, regardless of their race, color, national origin, sex, or disability, have equal educational opportunities. Some schools designate one employee to coordinate compliance with all applicable civil rights laws. Other schools designate one or more employees to coordinate compliance with individual civil rights laws. These employees may have different titles at different schools (e.g., civil rights coordinators, equity coordinators, Title IX coordinators, Title VI coordinators, Section 504/ADA coordinators, disability rights coordinators, etc.).

The Department’s Office for Civil Rights collects the name, telephone number, and email address of school districts’ Title IX coordinators (sex discrimination), Title VI coordinators (race, color, and national origin discrimination), and ADA/504 coordinators (disability discrimination) as part of its Civil Rights Data Collection, which is collected every two years. The information provided here was reported to the Office for Civil Rights in 2015 in response to the 2013-2014 school year collection. Please contact the school district directly for the most up-to-date information about a school district’s civil rights coordinators.

Go here – https://www.ed.gov/civ-rts-coordinators

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Why We Need Title IX to Let Her Learn: A Parent’s Perspective

The National Women’s Law Center interview Why We Need Title IX to Let Her Learn: A Parent’s Perspective has been updated with a list of curated resources from SSAIS.  The list includes experts’ clips from Sexual Harassment: Not in Our School!, parent and student activism recommendations, the 2017 NCWGE Title IX report, K-12 family accounts, select media reports, and many other practical resources.   

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RAINN launched the Prevention Navigator

In September, RAINN launched the Prevention Navigator:

<http://preventionnavigator.rainn.org/>: a free, online resource to help colleges find and review sexual assault prevention programs. RAINN is excited to bring this tool to campuses across the country and elevate the voices of students and administrators alike.  Whether or not you play a direct role in your institution’s prevention efforts, I hope the Prevention Navigator can be a useful resource for you and your colleagues.

Nancy C. Amestoy
Campus Programs Manager
RAINN

1220 L St NW, Suite 505 | Washington D.C. 20005
*202.759.3907* | rainn.org <http://www.rainn.org/> | donate.rainn.org |

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