Title IX-Janet Stewart

Presentation at the Ohio NOW State Conference November 10, 2012 on Title IX by Janet Stewart [stewart.849@buckeyemail.osu.edu]

Janet Stewart  HerbDempsey, Title IX in athletics advocate.


-When the OCR accepts a complaint and decides to investigate, it either has one of two outcomes:

               1) The district hasn’t failed to comply with Title IX, or

               2) Something needs to be done

*However, long before the OCR comes to one of these outcomes, the school district will probably sign a contract (an Agreement to Resolve) and then deals with the problem itself.

-No recipient institution has ever lost federal support through an OCR action enforcing Title IX

-The technical advice and assistance that the OCR provides schools, however, is helpful in helping the school to see the “writing on the wall” and in helping them alter their athletic practices and offerings in order to become compliant.


Ohio does not currently have a Title IX Coordinator:

-Despite this fact, the Methods of Administration Coordinator for the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education has taken over this position since around 2008.

-She has helped to coordinate training on Title IX in the Cleveland and Delaware, OH areas; the training was led by representatives from the OCR regional staff in Cleveland, OH.

-Generally, Ohio does not offer many incentives to try to increase equity within athletics for women.



-The OCR and Columbus City Schools came to an agreement on July 2, 2012

-This agreement stopped the civil-rights investigation into whether the Columbus district discriminates against girls in athletics.

-The agreement made it clear that the district had to do something about the gap between the number of girls in Columbus schools and the number on the playing fields.

-The district entered into the agreement with the OCR voluntarily, and the department did not reach any formal conclusions about any specific lack of compliance with Title IX within the district.

-Columbus as one of four districts of the twelve that the National Women’s Law Center filed complaints against that reached an agreement with the OCR.

As a result of the agreement the district will:

-Survey all female students by September 10 to see what sports they’d like to play

-This is something that the district has never done at its high schools.

-The survey will allow the district to “measure and assess” whether it is meeting the needs of the students.

-If it determines that it is not, it may need to implement some new sports or opportunities.

-The National Women’s Law Center commented and said that asking the girls what sports they want to play will likely result in additional sports being added.

-The district will also work harder to tell students what sports are offered and establish a formal way for girls and parents to request new sports.

-Within the original complaint, it said that girls were underrepresented in sports programs at 15 out of the 16 high schools that offered sports within the district in 2009.

 -12 sports were offered to boys and only 10 were offered to girls.

-Females accounted for 49% of the district high school’s enrollment but only 38.3% of those women play sports compared to 61.7% of the boys.

*This information is from the Columbus Dispatch


-In 2009, this school undertook a voluntary study of equity in athletics and found some things to fix.

-The study looked specifically at sports offerings and participation.

-They looked at participation opportunities by gender as well as conducted a survey of female students to determine what they wanted to play.

-This survey led to the decision to add, district-wide, a sport for girls (either lacrosse or gymnastics).

-The study also encouraged more opportunities at the elementary school to cultivate interest early on.


-There has been a trend to use competitive dance teams to achieve compliance.

-It does fall into the same “ambiguous” category as cheerleading in determining whether it is a sport or not.

-However, within an Ohio school district (not sure which) a survey revealed that competitive dance was the most popular option among female students.

-This may reveal that the sports that girls are exposed to and encouraged to participate in are still very much influenced by dominant beliefs about masculinity and femininity.


-Herb Dempsey has been working on filing OCR complaints for insufficient athletic opportunities and facilities for girls for 25 years.

-He started this project because he saw the poor quality of the softball field at his daughter’s school and was shocked when no amount of effort on his part with the school district in Washington State could change it.

-SO, he started filing OCR complaints, and his data-driven approach to change for women in athletics has been fairly instrumental for getting incremental change for girls in high school athletics in Washington.

-He feels that the OCR moves very slowly and that a data-driven approach by those that bring their complaints can help combat this to an extent.

-The OCR is not always consistent in how it works and can be unpredictable in terms of what they find in violation of Title IX, what complaints they accept, etc.

-He believes that institutions generally do not wish to change, and as a result, they make this data hard to find and access.

-He places a lot of emphasis on public records acts and other devices to leverage the release of information.

-Freedom of Information Act.

-Accessing this information allows us to get the data and the data is where the change comes from.

-Girls are treated as second class citizens.

-Found most schools, most districts and most states adopt levels of discrimination as “acceptable.”

-Unless a complaint is filed with the OCR, the entire internal school, district systems to address discrimination won’t move.


1)   Take statements from victims, look at the
facilities and/or equipment involved and make notes and take pictures.

  1. What policies and laws are out there to provide

2)   Talk to school administrators

  1. Ask them for a plan and try to move them to your
    side to make changes.

    1.   i.     If the issue is that the boys field is better than the girls field, argue for the low-cost solution of trading fields.
    2.    ii.     If the facilities really are the same, then this shouldn’t be an issue…
    3.    iii.     Most likely, this will not work.  Thus, you
      have encountered the issue of attitude.
  2. Figure out how to file a school specific complaint, which isn’t always easy.
  3. If a request to a school administrator doesn’t result in a specific commitment with a time-certain resolution…

3)   File a claim with the district asking that something
specific be done

  1. Should look for time-specific plans with goals
    that can be identified, seen, measured, etc.

    1.  i.     This obligates the district to have specific remedies to situations.
  2. If this doesn’t’ result in a specific resolution
    within a month, withdraw the complaint

4)   Immediately file a complaint with the OCR

  1. Include copies of the paperwork and see if the OCR will move on the allegations of discrimination
  2. If there is a state agency charged with compliance, consider sending a courtesy copy of the local complaint.
  3. If there is a local newspaper, send them photos illustrating the problem