OCR Announces Resolution of Title IX Sex Discrimination Case in K-12 Athletics

This month, the Office for Civil Rights announced the resolution of a complaint that alleged “inequitable athletics access” for girls’ athletic teams at Salem-Keizer School District in Oregon. The complaint stated that the District discriminated against female students in its interscholastic athletics programs by providing unequal access to facilities, equipment, and coaching resources.  In its investigation, OCR determined that the boys’ baseball team had “superior playing fields, dugouts, bullpens, fencing, landscaping, bleachers, batting cages, and storage compared to what is provided to [the] girls’ softball team.” There was also evidence that the boys’ baseball teams were provided with complete uniforms while the girls’ softball teams only had “uniform tops.”  Lastly, OCR received information that the girls’ softball coach was not provided with a prep period at the end of the school day, forcing the coach to prepare fields during practice rather than being available to coach during those times. In contrast, the boys’ baseball coach was provided a prep period and had more availability to coach the players. 

Under the regulations for Title IX, a recipient must provide “equal athletic opportunity for female and male students with respect to the provision of equipment and supplies” and “equal athletic opportunity for male and female students regarding the opportunity to receive coaching.” To determine compliance with these provisions, the OCR assesses a variety of factors including but not limited to the quality, quantity, and availability of equipment and the availability of part-time and full-time coaches.  Ultimately, OCR determined that the District’s current athletic practices discriminated against female athletes and violated Title IX. 

Under the voluntary resolution agreement, the District must perform an inventory and assessment of all “competitive facilities” and “coaching opportunities” and present this assessment to OCR within 120 days. Once this assessment is approved, the Department will create a “corrective action plan” to address “any inequities the district identifies” and meet OCR’s specified benchmarks for reporting its progress. 

For more information about OCR’s determination and the Voluntary Resolution Agreement, see the resources below: 

ICS provides a wide range of Title IX compliance services, including for Athletics. Contact us for more information.