100 Idaho schools face Title IX complaints

Jul 13 2011 - 9:23am

BOISE, Idaho -- The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights in Seattle is looking into allegations of Title IX violations at 100 high schools across Idaho.

According to 600 pages of complaints dated June 23, schools in 78 out of the state's 115 school districts have been accused of not providing female athletes equal opportunities to play sports.

Jim Bradshaw, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., emphasized the department has not begun investigating districts.

"Our Office for Civil Rights is evaluating the allegations to determine if they are appropriate for investigation and resolution," he said.

Some schools are accused of padding female athlete numbers with cheerleading and dance activity numbers, according to the complaints. Others allegedly failed to adequately inform female students about other athletic activities and offer sports female athletes may be interested in.

Included in the complaints are Grangeville, Kamiah, Kendrick, Lapwai, Lewiston, Moscow, Orofino and Potlatch school districts.

Idaho Department of Education communications director Melissa McGrath said if complaints are determined to be valid, local school districts will be notified by the Office of Civil Rights that it is opening an investigation.

"To date, this has not occurred," she said. "The OCR is still evaluating each complaint."

Lewiston School District Superintendent Joy Rapp said the district has not received any notification regarding a complaint or an investigation.

The complaints list the disparity at each high school between the percentage of male and female athletes compared to the percentage of enrolled males and females. According to the complaint, Lewiston High School had a disparity of 9 percent in 2010, with 227 female athletes compared to 365 male athletes.

"If Lewiston High School ... provided girls with opportunities substantially proportionate to enrollment, an additional 53 girls would be able to play sports," the complaint stated.

LHS athletic director Tim Sperber could not be reached for comment.

In other districts, Grangeville High School had a disparity of 8.7 percent in 2010, with 106 female compared to 146 male athletes; Kendrick High School had a disparity of 3.7 percent, with 40 female compared to 66 male athletes; Potlatch Junior-Senior High School had a disparity of 5.3 percent, with 67 female athletes compared to 93 male; Orofino High School had a disparity of 6.2 percent, with 96 female athletes compared to 138 male; Lapwai High School had a disparity of 6.4 percent, with 45 female athletes compared to 52 male; Kamiah High School had a disparity of 10.3 percent, with 85 female athletes compared to 118 male; and Moscow High School had a disparity of 10.8 percent, with 188 female athletes compared to 303 male, according to the complaints.

Moscow School District Superintendent Dale Kleinert could not be reached for comment.

Bradshaw did not specify what sparked the large number of complaints in Idaho, but said the office has also received Title IX complaints against school districts in Oregon and Washington. Under the federal Privacy Act, the department is unable to identify anyone involved in civil rights cases, especially, complainants, he said.

Rapp added the Lewiston School District was involved in a Title IX complaint around 12 years ago, but it was closed upon investigation.

The Office for Civil Rights has 10 regional offices nationwide that handle approximately 7,000 complaints each year, Bradshaw said.

To see more of the Lewiston Tribune, go to www.lmtribune.com.


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