by: REVIEW FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lakeridge's Bailey Morris looks to turn a double play in the Pacers victory in a recent softball game with Lake Oswego.A “Mr. Messenger” with a “Truthful Tale,” who had an Applegate, California, ZIP code, sent a complaint in March to the U.S. Department of Education that 59 Oregon school districts aren’t meeting Title IX standards — including Lake Oswego.

The complaint alleges that there are discrepancies in sports participation versus enrollment between male and female athletes at the school districts, and the complaint offers data to back the claim based on data from the U.S. Office for Civil Rights.

A man who was involved in the filing of the complaint, which included Lakeridge High School, furnished The Review with a copy of the administrative complaint upon request. But the complaint was news to top school district officials, and the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights “does not confirm the receipt of complaints,” a department spokesman said earlier this month.

“If after evaluation the Education Department opens an investigation into a complaint, we will inform the institution, the complainant and the public, as appropriate,” the spokesman said in an email.

Title IX is one of the 1972 Education Amendments to the U.S. Code, and it states that: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

The U.S. Department of Education has a three-part test evaluating whether equal opportunities exist that includes “assessing whether opportunities for male and female athletes are substantially proportionate to their respective levels of enrollment,” according to a U.S. Department of Justice’s “Equal Access to Education: Forty Years of Title IX” report in 2012.

If a school district is found to be out of compliance with Title IX, the Office of Civil Rights will work with administrators to get a district back into compliance. The majority of cases do not go to the enforcement stage, but districts that reach such a point face a termination of federal funds from the U.S. Education Department or referral to the U.S. Department of Justice.

This complaint is based on numbers from school district reports. School districts submit data to the Office of Civil Rights on enrollment, access to education programs and services and academic proficiency, and the numbers are broken up by race, ethnicity and disability.

Renowned, longtime Title IX advocate Herbert Dempsey was involved in the filing of the complaint. Dempsey, 77, of Graham, Washington, became a nationally recognized advocate for the constitutional milestone after he saw that his daughter, a volleyball player, was not treated fairly in her school athletics program, and he began challenging school districts across the nation about whether they’d met Title IX requirements. Dempsey said the girl students in the school districts listed in the complaint are being treated like “second-class citizens.”

“Their civil rights are being abridged,” he said. “They’re not being treated the same way boys are.”

Complaint figures

“The District’s LAKERIDGE HIGH SCHOOL does not provide opportunities for girls to play sports in numbers substantially proportionate to their enrollment,” the complaint says.

At Lakeridge, there was a discrepancy between the percent of girls who are enrolled in school (49.72 percent) and the percent of girls who participate in sports (39.96 percent) as opposed to the percent of boys who are enrolled in school (50.28 percent) and the percent of boys who participate in sports (60.04 percent). The “participation gap” is 9.76 percentage points for girls, the complaint says.

The data is from 2012, the most recent data available through the OCR’s database, according to the complaint. But, the complaint provides participation gaps for the previous years: 5.6 percentage points in 2010, 5.1 percentage points in 2006 and 1.4 percentage points in 2004. If the numbers had been proportionate, more girls could have participated, the complaint says, alleging that 40 more girls could have participated in 2010 and 48 more girls could have been in athletics in 2012.

Lake Oswego High School was not among the schools referenced in the complaint, and Dempsey said that some schools were not involved in the complaint because the results were not mathematically significant in terms of participation gaps. Both high schools were in a similar 2011 complaint filed against Oregon school districts.

Other local Title IX cases

The mother of a Lake Oswego High School student spoke up about the Title IX issue at a public school board meeting last month, saying that softball players did not have playing grounds or facilities that were of the same caliber or in the same condition as the baseball players’ playing grounds and facilities. But the woman asked not to be named, saying her comments had resulted in a backlash against her child.

Lake Oswego School District Superintendent Bill Korach said he was not familiar with the regional Title IX complaint submitted in March until The Review brought it to his attention this month, but he said it is similar to a 2011 case that was dismissed and also was regional and pointed to disparity in male-female participation-enrollment ratios.

“We provide all manner of opportunities for both male and female athletes. ... What Title IX really focuses on is the lack of opportunities,” Korach said.

Within the last several years, there was a more specific Title IX complaint filed and resolved at each LOSD high school: Lakeridge and Lake Oswego, Korach said.

At Lakeridge, there was a complaint saying that it was not fair for softball players to have to go to George Rogers Park to play, and the girls team should have its own place to play on the school campus as the baseball team does.

“I talked with the OCR people — the Office of Civil Rights — they said that we would have to provide reasonably similar facilities on campus for both the boys and the girls,” Korach said. “So we just said ‘all right, we’re in violation if that’s your interpretation. We need to own it and fix it.’”

The school had enough space to accommodate an on-campus softball field and employed $700,000 in bond money to bring the project to fruition, he said.

At Lake Oswego High School, the video viewing room, where athletes reviewed plays, was in the boys locker room, so the school then set up a similar video viewing facility for female athletes, Korach said.

“In both of these cases, we adjusted to the circumstances we had to address,” Korach said.

By Jillian Daley
503-636-1281, ext. 109
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow me on Twitter
Visit us on Facebook

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine