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California School District Agrees to Provide Equal Opportunities for Girls in Sports in Response to NWLC Complaints

OCR’s investigation finds district-wide underrepresentation of girls in sports

July 20, 2012

(Washington, D.C.) In response to a complaint filed by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) in 2010, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has found that girls in the Irvine Unified School District are underrepresented in athletics programs, with district-wide disparities of 11-15 percentage points between girls’ enrollment and the share of athletic participation opportunities provided to them. These gaps represent a total of 1,015 additional opportunities needed to level the playing field for female students. The OCR’s investigation also revealed that the District lacks a policy or procedure for students or parents to request additional sports opportunities.

Under the agreements with OCR, the four high schools located in the District will conduct comprehensive assessments to determine whether female students’ interests in playing sports are being met.  The assessments will be based on multiple indicators of interest and will include a survey of girls in 8th through 12th grades, their participation in club, intramural and recreational sports offered in the district’s region, and identification of sports not offered by the district but offered by other schools in the same competitive region.  The District is required to report their findings to OCR and to add opportunities for girls as required in the upcoming school years.

The following is a statement from Marcia D. Greenberger, National Women’s Law Center Co-President:

“The resolution of this complaint confirms the Center’s findings that the schools’ own data demonstrate widespread disparities in athletic opportunities. It’s well-documented that girls’ participation in sports reaps benefits that extend beyond the playing field and leads to higher academic achievement and graduation rates, lower teenage pregnancy rates, and overall better health.  The Center’s findings and OCR’s investigation underscore the urgency of treating girls fairly and putting these schools on the path toward compliance with Title IX.  In the fortieth year of this landmark law, it is past time to give girls equal opportunities to participate in sports.”

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