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D.C. Schools Settle Title IX Complaint With U.S. Dept. of Ed.

The District of Columbia public schools have agreed to provide equal athletic opportunities for high school girls to settle a Title IX complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights.

Under an agreement signed late last month by D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, the district must develop a tracking system, preferably electronic, to count the number and gender of students participating in each individual sport, according to the Washington Post. By July 1 during each year of the agreement, the district must submit that data to the OCR.

To prove their compliance with Title IX, the federal legislation that prohibits gender—based discrimination in any federally financed education program or activity—the district must "provide athletic participation opportunities that are either substantially proportionate to each sex's enrollment in its high schools, or demonstrate that the interests and abilities of female students are fully and effectively accommodated," per the terms of the agreement. To gauge students' athletic interests, the district must conduct survey all students at each of its high schools and all 8th graders by March 1, 2014.

If the survey results reveal unmet athletic interests for female students, the district must either add athletic opportunities to accommodate those interests or ensure that the participation rate for female athletes is proportional to the overall percentage of female students.

While this agreement clears up one Title IX complaint, a second complaint that was filed against the district by the National Women's Law Center is still pending investigation.

As my colleague Gina Cairney reported back in June, the NWLC found a major disparity between the percentage of girls enrolled in D.C.'s public schools and the percentage of female athletes. Nine of the district's traditional 15 high schools had a gap in girls' sports participation that exceeded 10 percent, according to a Washington Post report.

The NWLC also alleged that "at schools with insufficient [athletic] facilities, either there are no facilities for the girls' sports, or the boys' sports are routinely given preference, or both."

The settlement of the first complaint "is a good first step, but D.C. has a long way to go to make sure it's giving girls a fair shot at playing sports," said Neena Chaudhry, legal counsel for the NWLC, to the Post. "Our complaint also found inequities in coaching and facilities that this settlement didn't address."

In other words: DCPS schools aren't out of the woods just yet when it comes to alleged Title IX violations.

They did take a big step forward, however, by settling one of the two pending complaints.

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