Saturday, August 11, 2001

Schools in Ky. fail Title IX

Boys' sports favored in 70 of 117 cases

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — State education officials want the Kentucky High School Athletic Association to crack down harder on high schools that aren't complying with Title IX requirements for gender equity in athletics.

        The KHSAA on Thursday reported to the state board of education that 70 of 117 high schools surveyed during the 1999-2000 and the 2000-01 school years were giving preferential treatment to boys' sports.

        The report cited a lack of “prime time” scheduling opportunities for girls' basketball, inadequate conditions of girls' softball fields and limited support activities, such as cheerleading, for girls' sporting events.

        Campbell County High School was one of those deemed deficient in Title IX compliance.

        “We have a plan in place to erase the deficiency,” said Superintendent Roger Brady.        

Equal lights

        Mr. Brady said the athletic association noted that the boys' baseball field has night lighting while the girls' softball field does not. He said that's because the girls don't play at night and the girls' team several years ago said those lights weren't necessary.

        He estimates the lights will cost about $50,000 and will be installed within five years, perhaps as soon as this school year.

        Silver Grove Independent Schools was in compliance with the Title IX requirements.

        Christy Greis, a district athletic director, said it's easier for the tiny district of 231 students to comply — especially because it doesn't have a football team.

        “If there's money for it, whoever needs it pretty much gets it,” she said.

        Three high schools — Henry Clay and Tates Creek in Fayette County, and Cumberland in Harlan County — have been placed on probation and two have been fined for gender equity violations.

        But the KHSAA on Friday would not provide the Enquirer with a complete list of the schools, saying its reporters must file a Freedom of Information request or travel to the Frankfort office.        

Monitoring continues

        Fort Thomas board of education member Craig True said the KHSAA should be tougher.

        “Fining a school $250 or $500 leaves me a little empty. That's taxpayer money,” Mr. True said. “I would come up with draconian penalties like the team can't play.”

        The report was part of a five-year program in which the KHSAA is auditing each of its 285 member schools for compliance with Title IX, the federal law that requires schools receiving federal money to provide equal opportunities for boys and girls.

        Boone County's public schools were sued last year by three sets of Florence parents who claim their daughters are denied equal treatment in sports. A settlement of the case proposed in May was to be signed last month but has been delayed as one set of parents seeks new attorneys.

        Despite the large number of schools found not in compliance, most are addressing the issues found during the audits, said Brigid DeVries, KHSAA executive assistant commissioner.

        “In most cases, we're pretty pleased with the schools' responses,” Ms. DeVries said. “In some cases there are problems.”

        Ms. DeVries said the association is trying to help schools “with knowledge about the law and how to assess and examine their athletics programs.”        

"The same opportunities'

        The KHSAA report also said many schools have since addressed the Title IX deficiencies identified during the audits.

        For example, Logan County High School is making improvements to its softball field and girls locker room.

        “I have a daughter who participates in sports, and I understand the importance for girls to have the same opportunities as boys,” said Bob Nylin, the school's principal.

        The report noted that other schools are in varying stages of compliance.

        The 1999-2000 audit of Evarts High School in Harlan County found that more boys' basketball games were scheduled in “prime time” than girls' games and that the school failed to correct the problem.

        KHSAA directed the school to explain by Aug. 15 if it has a compelling reason for the discrepancy.

        Title IX is a section of the 1972 federal education amendments requiring that “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.”

        Specific information was unavailable Friday afternoon about whether Cincinnati-area high schools are in compliance with the federal standards.

        Member schools of the Ohio High School Athletic Association in 1995 received a 150-page handbook on gender equity in interscholastic athletics, said Dr. Deborah Moore, assistant commissioner.

        Enquirer reporters Jennifer Mrozowski and Susan Vela contributed.


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