First-time Title IX data  for 2015-16 coming due

First-time Title IX data for 2015-16 coming due

(Calif.) The first reporting deadline for a new set of data reflecting public school sports participation by gender is six months away, but state education officials are reminding districts that the information must include all activities that have occurred since the beginning of this school year.

The reporting mandate, created under a new state law aimed at ensuring public school compliance with Title IX, requires local education agencies to publish enrollment and athletics participation data disaggregated by gender.

The California Department of Education recently issued its 2015-16 Education Equity program guidance, a document outlining what is required from LEAs. This instrument is also used by the CDE to monitor an LEA’s compliance with laws on equity in the treatment of students.

“The LEA ensures that each public elementary, secondary school, and charter school offering competitive athletics shall make all of the following information publicly available at the end of the school year and shall reflect the total number of players on a team roster on the first official day of team competition: total enrollment of the school, classified by gender; number of pupils enrolled at the school who participate in competitive athletics, classified by gender; number of boys' and girls' teams, classified by sport and competition level,” the new statute reads.

By highlighting the new Title IX reporting requirement, enacted in 2014 by Senate bill 1349, CDE is putting districts on notice that it plans to follow through on its responsibility to review and enforce the mandate.

Title IX, the landmark federal anti-discrimination law passed in 1979, was put in place to protect people from gender-based discrimination in all educational programs that receive federal funding. But numerous cases have been brought against schools specifically for failing to provide girls with equal athletic opportunities – including equitable equipment and facilities.

The requirements of Title IX were reinforced recently by the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal in Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High School District, a case in which the court found the district liable for failing to provide substantially equal opportunities for female athletes. Plaintiffs in the 2014 class action suit said that they had not been provided equal facilities for games, practices or training sessions, locker rooms, equipment and supplies, transportation vehicles, scheduling of games and practice times, funding, publicity, coaches or athletic participation opportunities.

California state law mirrors Title IX, which requires that schools meet one of three tests to prove compliance:

  • Athletic participation of women and girls is proportionate to enrollment.
  • The school has a history and continuing practice of program expansion for women or girls.
  • The school is fully meeting female athletes’ interests and abilities in its present athletic program.

Enforcement of compliance with the state law, however, is initiated only upon the filing of a complaint alleging a violation.

In championing her SB 1349 through the Legislature last year, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, said that despite great gains in terms of more opportunities for female sports participation, “the level of opportunity for girls still has not reached the level of opportunity for boys that existed when Title IX…was enacted.”

For schools that are complying with Title IX, the new law will provide an opportunity for them to showcase the equal opportunities they are providing to both genders, the Santa Barbara Democrat said at the time.

“For those schools that don’t comply, we hope this reporting requirement will ‘sunshine’ that inequity, give parents and schools important information, and become a wake-up call to the school and its community that change is needed,” she said.

The information required under the new education code section must be posted to each school’s website. If the school does not have a website, the information must be listed on the district’s website separately for each individual school. Posting that reflects 2015-16 school year data should occur by June 30, 2016, according to the guidance.

It is also suggested that LEAs consider updating their board policies on athletic competition to reflect that this information will be compiled and made publicly available. The full text of the Guidance can be read here.