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KCSD examining L-EHS Title IX concerns

Posted: June 7, 2011 5:40 p.m.
Updated: June 8, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Are female athletes being treated the same as male athletes at Lugoff-Elgin High School (L-EHS)? Marti and Mike Gogan decided to find out after realizing money raised to buy cheerleader uniforms was being used to cover other costs. If the answer is “yes,” the Kershaw County School District (KCSD) could find itself in violation of Title IX federal funding regulations.

The L-EHS parents sent an email listing their concerns to Kershaw County School District (KCSD) officials who are now examining the percentage of participation between male and female athletes in the district’s athletic programs.

Marti Gogan said it all started several months ago when she and several other L-EHS parents wanted to find out how money was flowing in and out of the cheerleading’s fundraising and general fund accounts.

“We were trying to buy new cheerleading uniforms. The cheerleaders were doing all of this fundraising, but the money wasn’t there. So we started trying to find answers,” she said; she and her husband then decided to investigate how girls and boys sports are funded. “We learned that they were using fundraiser money for expenses. But for all of the other teams, the school district covers their expenses.”

Ultimately, the Gogans found what they believed to be inequalities among the high school’s female and male athletes -- a concern that prompted them to meet with the school’s principal numerous times since October, and email that list of concerns to KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan.

In that email: what the Gogans felt were “vastly different” coach-to-athlete ratios , the quality of coaches selected, resources, equipment, benefits and publicity provided to the high school’s male versus female athletes.

It is those issues the Gogans believe have created a perception among parents of female athletes that there is a disregard of Title IX, the federal law passed in 1972 requiring gender equality for boys and girls in every educational and athletic program that receives federal funding.

“There’s just not equity between the two. We don’t want to harm boys’ sports at all,” Marti Gogan said. “But Title IX was put into place to make sure things were equal for the girls. Our concern is not if competitive cheerleading is a sport, we just want funding for our female athletes to be equal.”

Friday morning, KCSD Director for Communications Mary Anne Byrd said Morgan would look at all of the school district’s middle and high school athletic programs and pull data on how they operate in terms of the male-to-female ratio. Byrd said KCSD Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Agnes Slayman and Director of Pupil Services Allen Teal met with principals and activities directors June 1.

“We have an email that asked for a response by June 1, but we wanted to do more of a district-wide investigation,” Byrd said, adding that a formal written complaint has not been filed yet. “Dr. Morgan takes every parental concern seriously, and he will take this data seriously. We will conduct a full district-wide investigation, but it’s going to take more than a few days.”

Byrd also said that the fact that the school district has put together a team of administrators to examine the data shows that they are committed to making sure that there is equity among male and female athletes in the school district, and that they value female athletes just as much as they value the male athletes.

The Gogans, however, said similar complaints in the past have resulted in only “temporary fixes.” Their hope is that the KCSD’s investigation will change that, and promote fairness and equality for all of the district’s female athletes.

“I hope they’ll find that things have not been equal and that they will give it a permanent fix,” Marti Gogan said. “Maybe things were fixed for a year or two in the past, but it went right back to the way things were. We’re hoping for a permanent fix, so that the girls coming up through the ranks will benefit.”

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