Slow on the uptake

CUSD should have righted its issues with Title IX years ago

Cindy Wolff spent years attempting to convince the Chico Unified School District that its high school sports programs were not in compliance with Title IX, the federal gender-equity education amendment. But instead of working with Wolff, district officials largely ignored her warnings.

That changed last spring, when the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights launched an investigation based on a complaint filed by Wolff and the local chapter of the American Association of University Women. The OCR did not validate every one her criticisms, but it turns out Wolff was right on a chief complaint: the stark disparity between the participation rates of girls and boys. What she found was that there were 300-plus more male athletes than female athletes. To put it another way, that’s 300-plus fewer opportunities for girls.

(The OCR subsequently found other issues related to facilities, among other things.)

District officials should have corrected this situation years ago, when it first came to their attention. CUSD is now mandated to take certain measures to boost the involvement of girls. Junior-varsity tennis teams will be formed at both Pleasant Valley and Chico High. PV will also field a JV soccer team.

Detractors note that the new teams at both schools have only each other to play, since no other schools in the Northern Section, the league Chico schools compete in, have equivalent teams. But that’s missing the point.

Those schools are very likely out of compliance as well, and need to get their programs together. CUSD’s run-in with the OCR should serve as an example. Sure, it’s going to take some creativity, but it’s doable. Plus, those schools risk losing federal funding should they choose to ignore Title IX. They also run the risk of a lawsuit.

CUSD has Cindy Wolff to thank for eliminating those risks. She should be commended for her perseverance.