Elmbrook to assess need for more girls sports
Survey will help district comply with Title IX investigation
The Waukesha and Elmbrook school districts have inked agreements with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights in an effort to resolve the Title IX complaints filed against the districts late last year.
Waukesha and Elmbrook, along with the Kettle Moraine, Mukwonago, and Oconomowoc school districts, are all under investigation.
Community Newspapers reported that complaints were filed against the school districts in December, 2011. The schools received letters from OCR in February informing them of allegations that the districts discriminated against female student athletes by denying them an equal opportunity to participate in interscholastic athletics.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity operated by a recipient of federal financial assistance.
Those documents indicated that the complainant - whose name is redacted from the documents - alleged that each district failed Title IX's three-part participation test.
The resolution agreements signed by Waukesha and Elmbrook require them to demonstrate compliance with at least one aspect of the three-part test.
An institution can show compliance by demonstrating that athletic participation opportunities for male and female students are provided in numbers substantially proportionate to their respective enrollments. It can also demonstrate compliance by showing that the institution has a history of program expansion for the underrepresented sex, or by demonstrating that the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex have been accommodated by the present program
According to documents, the Elmbrook School District signed its resolution agreement on June 4, while the Waukesha School District signed a similar agreement June 7.
Elmbrook to evaluate need
Kristi Foy, Elmbrook's staff attorney and director of human resources acknowledged the resolution agreement signed with OCR and said the district intends to show that it accommodates its students' interests and abilities.
Elmbrook is working on a survey that it will send to all students in grades eight through 12.
The assessment includes a survey of female students; a review of recent surveys; the identification of any sports, squads or levels of sports for female students that are not currently offered but are offered by other area schools; and female students' participation rates during the 2011-12 school year in club sports, intramural sports and physical education courses offered in schools, community sports leagues, clubs or other programs.
"We will get feedback on whether our current offerings are sufficient, what other interests are out there, if there's a core group that would like to see a new sport added and what those sports are. And then at the end of September, we will get together as an administrative team and evaluate the survey results," Foy said.
"It's hard to say now what's going to happen in the fall, but certainly depending on what the survey information tells us, we will look at some next steps at that point."
If applicable, the school district must also review the number of female students cut from each team and the reasons why they were cut. It also must review any requests made on behalf of female students to add a particular sport, squad or level of sport, or to elevate an existing club or intramural sport to interscholastic status.
The district must complete these requirements as well as others to demonstrate compliance with Title IX.
Foy said Elmbrook officials are confident the district is in compliance.
"We have an amazing array of athletic opportunities for both genders, and we certainly want to be responsive to what kids want to participate in. We want to encourage participation as part of a successful Elmbrook career for our students. So we'll look at this survey data and see if there's anything that we could add to encourage participation. I think we want to encourage new participation where we can, so not just the same girls adding another sport. We hope that the survey gives us some good information."
Elmbrook has until June 29 to draft a survey and submit it to OCR for approval. It also has to develop a procedure for adding new sports, and that procedure will be added to the athletic websites for both Brookfield East and Brookfield Central high schools.
Waukesha Superintendent Todd Gray did not return a phone call seeking comment, so it remains unclear which course of action the Waukesha School District will pursue in an effort to demonstrate its compliance with Title IX.
Mukwonago takes other option
The Kettle Moraine and Oconomowoc school districts have signed similar agreements. Meanwhile, the Mukwonago School District pursued a different course of action from the other four school districts named in the complaint. It chose instead to resolve the complaint through a process known as the early complaint resolution program. As part of the deal, the district agreed to offer additional girls basketball and volleyball programs at the freshman level as well as create a girls field hockey team for the first time.
Those teams would be created only if student interest warrants it.
The Mukwonago athletic director also said that in the event only a few girls show interest in the field hockey team, Mukwonago would pay for them to play for the Kettle Moraine High School field hockey team as part of a co-op agreement.
Foy said Elmbrook choose not to use the early complaint resolution program because "it's a better use of resources for us to resolve the investigation and just get to the core question of are we offering the athletic activities that our students want to participate in."
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Brookfield to host hazardous waste collection June 1
- Business Calendar: May 16-29
- Elmbrook School District likely to cut 25-30 positions
- Brookfield mother, daughter create worldwide fundraiser to help Boston Marathon victims
- Police report: May 21
- Despite Elm Grove residents' concerns, Juneau Pathway approved Monday
- Loaded handgun taken from unlocked car in Brookfield
- Ask NOW: When will the Capitol Drive construction be over?
- Brookfield and Elm Grove police join national Click It or Ticket campaign
- Pilgrim Park students' rocket takes first at regional competition