The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights today announced the resolution of a Title IX compliance review at the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation in Evansville, Ind.
The review examined whether the corporation discriminated against female students under Title IX by denying them an equal opportunity to participate in its high school interscholastic athletics program and by not providing to female athletes locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities that are equivalent to those provided to male athletes. Prior to OCR's making a compliance determination, the corporation requested to enter into a voluntary resolution agreement with OCR.
"Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation worked cooperatively and proactively with OCR to address inequities that disadvantage the corporation's female athletes," said Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Seth Galanter. "The corporation has agreed to provide equality in its athletic opportunities and in the locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities at each of its high schools. This case reminds us how critical Title IX remains in ensuring equal opportunity in athletics for girls and women."
OCR's investigation revealed a disparity of more than 13 percentage points between the enrollment of female high school students and their participation in the corporation's athletics programs. Had the corporation provided equal participation, girls would have been offered approximately 590 additional athletic participation opportunities.
Under the terms of the agreement, the corporation will assess whether there are unmet athletics interests and abilities among female students and, if so, it will take steps by 2013-14 to increase opportunities for female, including new sports teams for girls, additional levels for existing teams or increased squad size for existing teams.
The corporation will also develop, implement and publicize a procedure for interested parties to use to request the addition of new sports or levels of sports at each high school. The agreement makes clear that OCR does not require or encourage the elimination of any team and that it is seeking action from the corporation that does not involve the elimination of athletic opportunities for either sex.
The agreement also requires the corporation to assess the locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities at each high school by comparing for males and females, the quality, availability, exclusivity, maintenance and preparation of practice and competitive facilities, and the availability and quality of locker rooms.
During the course of OCR's investigation, the corporation made significant renovations to its facilities, including the construction of a new high school. The corporation has agreed to upgrade any athletic facilities that are not comparable by the end of the current school year.
OCR will closely monitor the corporation's implementation of the agreement. A copy of the resolution letter is available at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/investigations/05115002-a.pdf and a copy of the resolution agreement is available at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/investigations/05115002-b.pdf.
OCR's mission is to ensure equal access to education and promote educational excellence throughout the nation through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights. OCR is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination by educational institutions on the basis of disability, race, color, national origin, sex, and age, as well as the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act of 2001.
For more information about the Office for Civil Rights, see http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html. For details on how OCR handles civil rights cases, visit http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintprocess.html.