Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Title IX settlement delayed




By Stephenie Steitzer
Enquirer Contributor

        COVINGTON — The Boone County School District will have to wait at least another month for a decision from U.S. District Court over whether a tentative settlement of a Title IX lawsuit seeking equality in female athletic programs passes muster.

        One of the parties in the settlement is seeking new legal representation, resulting in the delay.

        Kim Egan, one of the parents who filed the suit in March 2000 said at a hearing last week she isn't happy with the sales agreement for girls' soccer and softball fields.

        Ms. Egan said the district is paying Sports of All Sorts, Inc. $300,000 for fields the private athletic company will have access to during the soccer and softball off-seasons. Ms. Egan said the district did not disclose fully all agreement terms when she and her husband Patrick signed a consent decree.

        Ms. Egan said because their attorneys Ray Yasser and Sam Schiller agree with the decree, she and her husband will have to find new representation.

        Mr. Yasser and Mr. Schiller were not available for comment Monday.

        “So we're buying property that only gives female athletes limited access, while boys' fields are used year round,” Ms. Egan said.

        Boone County School District Superintendent Bryan Blavatt said boys and girls would have equal access to their respective fields.

        Mr. Blavatt said district rules prohibit both female and male athletes from practicing at certain periods before and after seasons, so other nonschool-sponsored teams can request the use of the facilities.

        Three Florence couples — the Egans, Ed and Barbara Lawrence, and David and Lisa Gatewood — filed the lawsuit claiming the district denied their daughters equal treatment. A tentative agreement between the district and the families was filed in May and was supposed to be settled last week.

        According to Title IX, a section of the 1972 federal education amendments, “no person in the United States

        shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program receiving federal financial assistance.”

        Last year, the state High School Athletic Association threatened to pull eligibility from any school that did not return its fully completed Title IX compliance forms.An overall report should be complete by the end of summer.

        Ms. Egan said she and her husband think the agreement is a step in the right direction, but are unhappy it lacks details.

        “Basically we want some very simple, specific language that includes dates, how they are going to implement things and who is in charge,” she said.

        Mr. Blavatt said the Egans should let the judge decide on the settlement and then follow a grievance procedure if their concerns still exist.

        “We're doing everything possible,” he said. “But we can't go forward until the case is determined.”

        The Gatewoods agreed a decision should be made as soon as possible. Mr. Gatewood said he and his wife would follow the proper procedure if they weren't satisfied.

        “We all pretty much had the same concerns with that agreement,” he said. “I'm not all that pleased with it.”

        Ms. Egan, however, said she and her husband want to make sure the settlement is right, even if it means their daughter Chrissi, who is in 11th grade, will never reap the benefits.

        Ms. Egan added: “I believe this is probably the best consent decree written to date, but it doesn't mean it can't be better.”

       

TERMS OF SETTLEMENT

              

        As part of a tentative agreement between the Boone County School District and three sets of parents, the district must:

        • Encourage increased female participation in school-sponsored sports.

        • Accommodate the interests of females in athletic programs.

        • Provide all athletes comparable uniforms.

        • Provide all necessary equipment and supplies.

        • Account for revenues and expenditures for all sports annually.

        • Review athletic scheduling for 2001-02 to ensure the schedules are set in a gender-neutral manner.

        • Select coaches for all teams using the same criteria.

        • Ensure females get the same access to practice and competitive facilities.

        • Treat all teams equally in terms of travel, meals and lodging.

        • Provide equal access to weight room facilities.

        • Provide comparable athletic facilities.

        • Publish its commitment to equal opportunity in the student handbook.

        • Notify parents of the district's grievance procedure.

        • Promote and publicize accomplishments equally.

        • Provide equal training and/or medical services.

        • Ensure coaches have equal opportunities for continued education.

        • Ensure all supporters and boosters are treated equally.

        • Designate an employee as a Title IX compliance officer.

        Source: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky

       



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