In November, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced it had resolved a complaint against Salem-Keizer School District No. 24J in Oregon, filed for inequitable athletics access for girls.
Current Title IX regulations require schools and institutions operating athletic programs to “provide equal athletic opportunity for members of both sexes,” including access to equipment, supplies, facilities, services, and coaching.
In its investigation, OCR gathered information showing inconsistencies between the facilities and support for boys’ baseball versus girls’ softball teams; specifically, boys’ baseball had superior facilities, access to a “team room,” and higher quality uniforms.
OCR found inequalities in coaching, as well. It learned that the softball coach did not receive a prep period to prepare the fields before practice and games, whereas the baseball coach was granted a prep period.
OCR did not issue formal findings of violations because the district and OCR entered into a resolution agreement to resolve the complaint prior to the completion of the investigation.
In the fairly brief (4-page) resolution document, OCR and the district agreed that the district would conduct assessments about the categories of complaint, each with a list of non-exhaustive factors to consider. For example, the facilities assessment would include considering the proximity of off-campus facilities and exclusive use of practice and competition facilities. The equipment and supplies assessment would include, but not be limited to, the amount of supplies shared, maintained and available to each team.
The district agreed to share the assessments with OCR via a written report for approval and review, and to subsequently create and implement a corrective action plan to address the inequities identified in the approved report.
This resolution agreement can serve as a useful resource for all schools. As a proactive measure, colleges, universities, schools, and districts may conduct their own assessments using the same factors as a guide to find potential inconsistencies in equity among its sex-separate athletic teams.