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From the ASC: Done deal; proportionality in prep sports

By
Updated: December 21, 2011

By Leo Kocher

Anyone who cares about the athletic program at their local high school should go to americansportscouncil.org and read the letter posted there.

This letter, dated June 24, 2010, is from the U.S. Department of Education to the School Superintendent of Idaho Falls, Idaho. The school boards and administrators in 99 percent of our nation’s high schools would have to find this letter’s contents and what it means for their schools quite disturbing.
After years of watching Title IX’s disastrous proportionality mandate wreak havoc on sports opportunities in our colleges. This letter is the first evidence that the American Sports Council has seen that demonstrates beyond a doubt that the U.S. Department of Education:
1) Can, will and has applied the proportionality standard to high school athletic programs;
2) Can, will and has demanded onerous and costly action from schools that are not proportional;
3) Can and will take appropriate measures” within its federal authority — including initiating enforcement proceedings — if schools fail to fully implement the remedies that the Department of Education demands.
In this letter, the U.S. Department of Education’s Seattle Office for Civil Rights (OCR) informs the citizens of Idaho Falls School District 91 that they are discriminating against their own daughters.
How did the OCR come to this conclusion? They used their counting skills.
The federal bureaucrats counted the number of student athletes that were male and compared it to the number of student athletes that were female and found that they were not the same.
As a matter of fact they found that between their two high schools there were 370 female athletes and 670 male athletes.
Of course the OCR tried to add a dash of nuance, and even complexity, in its “compliance review” of the Idaho Falls School District. But the investigation had largely reached its conclusion once one of the sexes was declared to be “underrepresented.” An underrepresented sex designation will make a finding that the school is violating the civil rights of its students virtually unavoidable.
This column cannot adequately do justice to the spectacle unveiled in this letter; nothing short of reading it can do that. But some of the highlights that grab attention include:

Boys are irrelevant. After stating in the letter that Title IX requires that a school “equally and effectively accommodate the athletic interests and abilities of students of both sexes” the letter clearly describes an investigative process that not only ignores, but even excludes any consideration of the interests and abilities of the high school boys.
It is impossible to determine whether the interests and abilities of boys and girls are equally accommodated if the girls’ interests and abilities are considered but those of the boys are not.

These particular Idaho Falls high schools offer every single girls’ varsity sport sanctioned by the Idaho high school state association. Undoubtedly these high schools administrators, locally elected school boards, and parents felt that sponsoring every sport that offered state championships and was administered by the Idaho state education leaders was doing a good job for their students. All it took to disabuse them of that notion were federal bureaucrats that could count, calculate percentages and totally ignore the abilities and interests of their male students.

This process only takes three and a half years. Idaho Falls School District was first alerted to its being subjected to a Title IX Compliance Review in December 2008. As mentioned the district was informed that it was discriminating against its girls in a letter 18 months later. In the settlement agreement constructed by the OCR, District 91 is tasked with providing “preliminary evaluation,” “supporting documentation”, and any “additional information” the OCR determines is necessary. These reports, evaluations, OCR monitoring, etc. will continue through June of 2012.
What must be understood here is that while the people administering secondary schools are accountable to their community’s taxpayers and constituents and need to complete tasks in a timely manner. The bureaucrats of the U.S. Department of Education have no such burden.             They are not elected, are accountable only to their political bosses, and have a budget in the billions. Wasting inordinate amounts of time and money, not only justifies their existence, it is also useful in intimidating local school administrators.

But one fact remains: under the rules written by the U.S. Dept. of Education, it will never be over until high schools reach proportionality by telling boys to clean out their lockers. The fact is if the federal proportionality standard continues to rule all else no school is going to be able to avoid shrinking (or eliminating) the rosters of boys teams. After all of the interviews and investigation, after all of the written reports, School District 91’s only possibility for an additional girls sport in its high schools was swimming (a sport not sanctioned by the Idaho’s high school association).
But even after it goes through the expense of sponsoring a girls swimming team (no boys team of course) it will barely put a dent in the lack of proportionality — and there will be nothing to prevent the OCR from putting the people of Idaho Falls through the same federal bullying nightmare all over again in the near future.
The letter posted on the American Sports Council Website is highly recommended reading. Know that nothing stands between your local school and the same treatment.

(The American Sports Council is a Washington D.C.-based coalition of alumni, coaches, athletes, parents and fans. It is the leading organization working for Title IX reform. Leo Kocher, the head coach at the University of Chicago, has written about the impact of Title IX for many years.)

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