The Camas School District has entered into an agreement with the United States Department of Education, office of civil rights, over a complaint of discrimination in athletics.
The complaint, filed on Aug. 23, alleges that the district is discriminating against female middle and high school students on the basis of gender, by failing to provide them with equal athletic opportunities. Since the district has agreed to report its activities regarding female students in athletics, the OCR will no longer investigate the complaint.
It states that, “This agreement resolves the allegation OCR has accepted for resolution as a result of the above referenced complaint and does not constitute an admission by the district of any violation of Title IX…or any other law.”
However, in the event that the district fails to implement any provision of the agreement, OCR will resume its investigation or take other measures.
School District Human Resources Director Rita Pakenen said the district does not believe it is discriminating against female students in its athletic programs.
“We never believed we did anything wrong,” she said. “We reviewed the original complaint and were left with two choices. Go through an audit and investigation, or a voluntary agreement and reporting. It was easier and in the best interests financially for the district and sports programs to do a voluntary agreement. We don’t have anything to hide.”
Pakenen added that she is working closely with Camas High School Athletic Director Terry Cavender, and they feel the district won’t need to make any changes.
“We are confident that what we’re doing is appropriate for both the boys and the girls,” she said.
“Talking with Terry, we believe that we offer equal opportunities for male and female athletes.”
The district has agreed to continue or take the following actions to resolve the OCR complaint:
Provide participation opportunities for female and male students in the district’s middle and high schools that equally accommodates their athletic interests and abilities, consistent with Title IX.
By July 1, evaluate the rates of enrollment of its female middle and high school students and their rate of participation in the districts athletic program.
By Oct. 28, if the evaluation indicates that the district is not providing opportunities for girls that are proportionate to their school enrollments, it must complete an evaluation that assesses whether it is fully accommodating their athletic interests.
By March 16, 2012, if the survey indicates that the district is not providing these accommodations, it will determine if there is a sufficient number of interested girls to create an additional squad or squads for each sport offered to meet that need.
The district may also be required to offer sports that are not currently available if there is sufficient female interest and competition opportunities, as well as the development of intramural or club sports.
The district will agree to provide equivalent equipment and supplies, and locker rooms and facilities,
Pakenen said she had been with the district for six years, and this is the first Title IX complaint she has seen.
“We’re always keeping an eye out for how many girls versus boys are participating in sports at the middle school and high school level, and it’s very close,” she said.
Currently, Camas High School sports offerings include football, soccer, basketball, wrestling, track, cross country, golf, swimming and tennis for boys. Girls are offered the same sports with the exception of football. They are also offered gymnastics and dance.
At the middle school level, sports offerings include football for boys and cross-country for girls, basketball and track for both, volleyball for girls and wrestling.