Indy Schools Upgrade

January 29, 2015

Over the past few years, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has been examining Title IX compliance at large school districts across the country. A review of Indianapolis Public Schools was recently completed, and the district reached an agreement with the DOE on Feb. 3 to address violations uncovered.

After a three-year investigation, the DOE found that just 35 percent of girls in IPS high schools were competing in sports, despite making up 50 percent of the student body. The district did not have a continuing practice of adding girls' teams or accommodating interest, thus failing each of the three ways to show it was complying with Title IX.

The first step to reaching compliance has been the addition of new sports teams, with a goal of creating 445 new athletic opportunities for females across seven high schools. So far, schools have begun soccer and softball squads, but IPS is also gauging the interest of its female students in other sports. "We issued a survey to all rising freshmen, sophomores, and juniors this spring," says Victor Bush, IPS's District Athletic Director and Athletic Director at IPS's Arsenal Tech High School. "We don't have the full results yet, but the DOE investigation reported untapped interests among our female students in rugby, bowling, swimming, and rowing. If our findings back this up, we will start implementing some of these sports next year."

In addition to the survey, IPS is encouraging female high school students to make participation suggestions. "We developed a protocol under which students, parents, and coaches can contact their high school's athletic director to express their desire to start a particular sports team," says Bush. "From there, the athletic director will work with them to recruit students to join, and if they find enough interest in the activity, the high school will offer it."

Another element of the plan is to expand girls' athletic programs at the district's elementary and middle schools. "We found it can be tough to get high school girls interested in sports if they haven't had success during their younger years," says Bush. "But if we start developing a love for athletics early, the girls will still be engaged when they get to high school.

"One of the keys to attracting girls to sports at a younger age is having the right coaches," he continues. "We have been trying to hire coaches who are 'kid magnets' and will make the effort to go out and recruit young ladies to play."

Besides taking the necessary steps to increase opportunities for girls, IPS is addressing discrepancies between girls' and boys' athletic facilities, booster club funding, and scheduling. At one school, a softball field has been upgraded, while another reopened its second gym after a construction project, allowing both the boys' and girls' teams to each have their own.

"In addition, our high schools no longer have sport-specific booster clubs," says Bush. "Any funds that come in have to support the school's athletic department as a whole, and there is an equitable allocation of money to all the teams."

Making sure practice and game times are comparable is still a work in progress. "Arsenal Tech was cited because our boys' basketball team practiced after school every day while the girls' team always met at night," Bush says. "The girls' basketball coach chose to have practice later because she is an assistant athletic director, and she had supervisory responsibilities after school. We've worked it out so that both teams can practice in the afternoon and the girls' coach doesn't miss out on her administrative duties.

"We're also looking at when our girls' teams play in comparison to the boys," he continues. "We want to make sure the girls get the same number of primetime contests on Friday and Saturday nights."

Since the results of the DOE investigation were not a surprise, Bush had already begun making sure funds were available for the new programs. "The investigation took a few years to complete, so I developed an idea of what changes would be needed," he says. "I put money aside in the district's athletics budget to make sure we could support additional teams and hire new coaches."

Overall, Bush says the investigation has been a difficult, but rewarding, challenge. "My goal was to be transparent and cooperative through the entire process," he says. "I took the DOE feedback as constructive criticism and made the needed improvements as quickly as possible. Ultimately, it's all about doing what's best for your district."
SEARCH for Products
SEARCH for Vendors

Lockers That Work

Looking for lockers for your team rooms? All-Star sport lockers from List Industries have raised the bar with their quality, functionality, and durability. All-Star locker feature List’s exclusive Hollow-T framing system that has ½” 13-gauge flattened expanded metal sides for maximum ventilation, safety, and rigidity. Plus, interlocking body components create a sturdy sports locker that … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Moving Up to the Pros

After years of success serving the college athletic market, G2L Window Systems got the call up to the pros. A G2L system was installed in one of the suites at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles. G2L Window Systems feature frameless, open-air design that allows fans to enjoy the sounds and smells of … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Record Boards Suited for the Diamond

Baseball and softball season is just around the corner, so this a perfect time to think about the best way celebrate the accomplishments of these teams. Austin Plastics & Supply offers a large variety of record display boards designed specifically for baseball and softball. Most focus on individual season and career records for pitching and … CLICK TO READ MORE...