Saturday, March 17th, 2007
Coldwater school officials working to follow Title IX
Civil rights complaint was filed by parents of the former girls' gymnastic program
By William Kincaid
COLDWATER - School officials say they are working to follow the guidelines and requirements set forth under a federal Title IX ruling - a 1972 gender anti-discrimination law that applies to educational entities that get federal funding.
Last May, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights investigated Coldwater Exempted Village Schools and made several recommendations for compliance. According to the ruling, Coldwater must complete a series of assessments of its athletic programs.
A civil rights complaint was filed in June of 2005 under Title IX by parents of the girls' gymnastic team after the program was cut. Officials said the team was dropped due to a lack of local opponents to compete against, in addition to excessive travel to competitions.
During the regular board meeting this week, Superintendent Rich Seas said the administration - working simultaneously with civil rights attorneys Tracy Ext and Denise Vaughn - has created an implementation timeline that adheres to the directives issued by the Feds.
The chronological timeline shows how the Coldwater administration is addressing the mandates, which includes accommodating the athletic interest and abilities of its female high school students.
"We've been dealing with it," Seas told board members this week. "We've come up with an implementation plan."
To date the school has done or will soon do the following:
• An additional female coach was employed work with the girls' cross country team on Aug. 1, 2006.
• A student survey, to assess interest in sports either currently or not currently being offered, was distributed to those in grades 8-1 in September of 2006.
• A freshman girls' basketball team was added on Nov. 1, 2006 due to sufficient number of athletes.
• A second junior varsity softball team was added on Feb. 1, 2007 due to sufficient numbers.
• The board of education will discuss the school's policy of adding and deleting sports on March 27, 2007.
Starting May 7, 2007, the school will report to OCR each six months, on May 7 and Nov. 6 through Nov. 6, 2008, concerning its progress to date in completing the actions indicated in its plan until it is fully implemented.
"It is what it is," Seas said about Title IX. "I see some truth in what's been said ... we're going do the right thing."
The Feds, according to Seas, said Coldwater would not have been in compliance with the law even if officials had kept the gymnastics program.
Seas told the board members that even though many females participate in both band and cheerleading, these activities do not county toward Title IX compliance rules.
"Title IX does not help female athletes," board member Joe Eichler commented during the discussion. He said it simply takes away from boys' sports.
Seas said it is not the intention of the Feds to take away from boys' sports. He told the board the school must comply with the law, regardless of long athletic tradition.