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Washington State Under Federal Probe for Possible Title IX Violations

The U.S. Department of Education is investigating Washington state's office of superintendent of public instruction for possible violations of Title IX rules.

The office for civil rights has received more than 125 complaints since November regarding a potential inequity in athletic opportunities for boys and girls across the state, according to The Bellingham Herald. OCR will investigate whether the Washington OSPI is "perpetuating discrimination" by not forcing school districts to comply with Title IX, Jim Bradshaw of the U.S. Dept. of Ed. press office told the paper.

This Title IX investigation shouldn't be all that surprising for the OSPI, as 26 Washington school districts were named in a Title IX complaint submitted to OCR back in March, according to the Herald. The districts had until April 15 to respond to the formal complaint.

Back in February, Washington state's Federal Way school district actually entered an agreement about Title IX enforcement with OCR after an allegation was filed that the district wasn't in compliance with the law, according to the Federal Way Mirror. While the agreement between Federal Way and OCR isn't an admission of wrongdoing, the district must provide the Dept. of Ed. with participation data through the rest of the calendar year. According to the paper, "If the OCR is not satisfied with the results, it could ask the district to offer more female teams in sports currently offered at the schools, create new girls-only sports, or establish intramural or club sports for females."

The Federal Way Mirror also reported that in the 2010-11 school year, the Federal Way district's enrollment was 51.4 percent boys and 48.6 percent girls, yet the percentage of high school athletes skewed distinctly toward the male side (59.4 percent male vs. 40.6 percent female).

As I reported last week, schools can demonstrate their Title IX compliance in one of three ways: 1) show that female athletic participation is in proportion to total female enrollment on campus; 2) demonstrate a history of expanding athletic opportunities for females; or 3) prove that they are meeting the athletic interests and abilities of female students.

Because of the ongoing statewide investigation into Title IX violations, the individual district investigations have now been closed by OCR. There is no timeline for completion of the OCR investigation, according to The Bellingham Herald.

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