It's been 10 days since 100 Idaho high schools were named in federal complaints about violating Title IX legislation regarding gender discrimination.
But being accused of Title IX violations and being found out of Title IX compliance are different matters.
From academics to athletics, anywhere federal education funding goes, the complexities of Title IX follow. Here are the nuts and bolts of Title IX.
What exactly is Title IX?
Title IX is short for Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX addresses gender discrimination in schools that receive any kind of federal funding. Gender-specific programs like Boys State and Girls State are exempt.
How does a school become Title IX compliant?
There is a three-prong test for Title IX compliance. Schools must prove they are complying in at least one of the following areas:
• Providing athletic participation opportunities that are substantially proportionate to the student enrollment;
• Demonstrating a continual expansion of athletic opportunities for the underrepresented gender;
• Full and effective accommodation of the interest and ability of underrepresented gender.
What do sports have to do with Title IX?
A: Sports are one of the most common points of emphasis in Title IX disputes. The law is designed to ensure equal opportunity for male and female athletes. Criteria used by the U.S. Department of Education in evaluating athletic departments include:
• Accommodation of the interests and abilities of members of both genders;
• Provision of equipment, supplies and travel allowance;
• Game and practice time;
• Publicity about available programs.
In the Idaho complaints made last week, all of the schools accused have a proportional imbalance of female students to female athletes. The complaint also accused schools of using cheer and dance to inflate their female athlete numbers, which goes against a 2010 federal ruling barring the practice.
Is it always discrimination against females that invokes Title IX?
Not necessarily. All 100 complaints involving Idaho schools suggest female students are placed at an unfair disadvantage in regards to athletic opportunity, but Title IX has been used recently in defense of male rights as well.
Western Kentucky University cited a lack of male scholarship opportunities in its 2006 decision to move up a division in college football, and the University of Delaware fell under investigation in May following a complaint by the men's track field and cross country teams, after the school announced the programs would be cut.
Q: What happens if a school doesn't comply with Title IX?
A: Anyone who believes that a school is not complying with Title IX may file an anonymous complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.
From there, the Office for Civil Rights assigned to the region evaluates the merits of the complaint and determines whether further investigation is necessary. This is the stage at which the Idaho complaints currently sit.
If further investigation is necessary, the OCR sends a letter to the school district and the state superintendent of education and works with the school.
A school may still be found compliant after investigation, or the OCR and the school may work together to foster an atmosphere of compliance.
In extreme cases, usually involving intentional disregard for Title IX, punitive damages may be awarded to the plaintiff(s).
- Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, Code of Federal Regulations