June 15, 2011
In November, the National Women's Law Center filed complaints against 12 school districts acts the country, citing a lack of compliance with Title IX statut. While investigations into the districts originally cited as being in violation have fallen off the national radar some seven months later, more than 100 different school districts all in one state find themselves under the microscope of federal investigation for such violations in a separate case.
According to the Spokane Spokesman Review, as many as 125 districts in the state of Washington are facing complaints that cite direct violations of different articles of Title IX. The state's Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is meeting with representatives from different school districts about their Title IX figures, as is the Washington Education Department.
While there have been any number of different potential violations, the key points being cited and investigated by OSPI include some fiery accusations, including sexual discrimination in terms of facilities as much as participatory opportunities for female athletes.
Perhaps more troubling for Washington is the nature of the case it could be facing. According to the Spokesman Review, a proposed lawsuit floated to media organizations from around the state was a qui tam suit, which was brought by a private whistleblower seeking millions of dollars in aid from the federal government to improve the conditions it highlighted.
All of the complaints being made have been brought on the basis of public records requests.
While it may be some time before either the OSPI or Education Department move closer to any sort of resolution regarding the potential Title IX case, the fact that such a massive undertaking has been made in one American state can only be seen as deeply unsettling in a time of fiscal crisis for school districts across the country. It certainly seems unlikely that Washington is the only state susceptible to such a claim based on advanced troves of public record information.
The Washington case itself may highlight significant inequity, yet it's also almost impossible to see where funding to solve those issues could come from given severe existing budget shortfalls across the state. It's not a stretch to extrapolate that similar divisive issues could emerge in any other states where Title IX cases are eventually brought to the fore.
Naturally, all of that means that while the current prospective case may focus on one state, officials from 49 others will be keeping a keen eye out to see how it is eventually resolved.