ESSEX – CHESTER – DEEP RIVER — Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 was passed to prevent discrimination in any education program or activity, including sports, based on sex. The idea is that boys and girls are given equal opportunity to participate in all federally-funded activities.
To be in compliance with Title IX, districts not only need to keep track of expenses, they also need to monitor use of practice fields, gymnasiums, locker rooms, team rooms and timing of games. The district needs to show that they are making an effort to provide equal opportunities in sports and activities to both genders, said Adrian Wood, the Title IX coordinator for the State Department of Education.
According to Wood, all school districts should be able to provide a complete budget for all sports fully broken down by gender to an auditor, reporter or member of the public.
“They should be doing a self-audit on a regular basis. It is the responsibility of the Title IX coordinator in that district,” Wood said. “They are made aware that that is part of their responsibility. They should know that if it’s even just a board making a request it has to be split up for all the sports. They should be prepared to be able to understand what they need to present if they are called into question.”
Instead of providing a complete budget, Region 4 schools presented budgets for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years that omitted fees, supplies, transportation and expenses for sports officials for boys cross country, indoor and outdoor track.
Expenses likely paid for these sports were included on the girls side of the budgeting sheet. For these sports, girls and boys share all of these expenses.
“If their budget is called into question, they are supposed to split it out completely by boys and girls,” Wood said. “If they only show money spent on say the girls’ tennis team when boys and girls ride the same bus that is wrong. It has to be broken out by gender.”
On November 13, 2018 after concerns about an unfair apportioning of the budget between boys and girls was raised by parents of the girls crew team, the business manager presented the incomplete athletics budget to the board to demonstrate that they were in compliance.
In this case, boys cross country and indoor track were omitted from the budget, while boys outdoor track was included with $9,960 of transportation and coaching expenses for the entire season. In comparison, all three girls’ sports were included with a total spending of $38,838.
Almost a year later, at a September 5 Region 4 Board of Education meeting, new superintendent Brian White addressed the concerns by saying that he ” “recently met with Principal Barile and VRHS Athletic Director Jeff Swan. They have practices in place now for season to season comparisons and accuracy checks on spending for athletic programs,” according to the minutes for that meeting.
In a recent interview, White discussed how he is working with administrators and the part-time athletic directors to devise a better system for monitoring Title IX compliance in the district.
White explained that evaluating expenses at the end of each season, “will provide more routine and more structure than in the past. When I roll out my budget this year it will be my first opportunity to put forward a new way to address these issues.”
In the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years the method that Region 4 used to determine compliance with Title IX, according to White, was simply the business manager and assistant superintendent, “looking at the budget.”
“We are taking steps internally and we are looking at it. We have the same information, but the manner it was reported needs to be corrected. We need time to go through that process,” White said. When asked if the assistant superintendent who also acts as the Title IX officer for the regional school district could comment on why it was done this way White said, “I think that would be inappropriate at this time.”
According to Wood, however, a school district should be able to account for past practices.
“Why are they only showing it for the girls cross country team when both the boys and girls teams? That’s a fair question to ask now,” Wood said. “It’s a more than an appropriate follow up question for the athletic director or Title IX officer.”
According to White, none of these additional factors have been viewed as a problem by parents or students in the regional school district, and no formal complaint has been made to the district or state’s Title IX coordinator.
“If parents do have concerns bring them forward. We want to take whatever steps necessary to address them,” White said. “We are going to be looking at fall sports pretty soon and looking at projected expenses versus actual [expenses] so more up to date information is coming.”
The issue of Title IX compliance was first raised in Region 4 by parents of the girls’ crew team. At the time the team only had one coach and participation was growing. As of May 2019, the team now has 2 assistant coaches and more than 40 athletes.