By Tim Cox
COLDWATER -- Resolution of a Title IX sexual discrimination complaint that will determine whether district school officials broke the law when they folded the high school gymnastics program is nearing a critical point.
The district's top administrators, including Superintendent Rich Seas and building principals, have been questioned in the investigation. All head coaches of every sports program also have answered civil rights inquiries.
The U.S. Department of Education's civil rights office now will randomly survey 100 students before deciding whether there is evidence district officials discriminated against the female athletes in the gymnastics program. District administrators decided last spring that gymnastics would be dropped for this year because of the extensive travel required.
The decision to scrap the program was made after Coldwater's two closest gymnastics opponents -- Columbus Grove and Delphos -- dropped their programs. About 18 girls competed in the final season of Cavaliers gymnastics.
Investigators had wanted to interview students directly but Seas said he did not want students dragged into interviews. Instead, education department officials will settle for a random survey that can be mailed in. District officials will come up with a scientific method to select the 100 students to be surveyed so no discrimination can be alleged in that process, Seas said.
Eventually, all of the information gathered will be passed through several bureaucratic channels before a decision is made. If education officials believe the district discriminated against the girls, district officials would have to enter negotiations to remedy the situation.
"If there is no discrimination, it simply goes away," Seas said. "If it becomes a negotiation ... we would obviously bring in the attorney."
Title IX is the 1972 federal anti-discrimination policy that applies to all federally funded education entities. Its aim is to ensure equal educational and extra-curricular opportunities for men and women.