Equal access, equal opportunity ... priceless

The Kingston High School Volleyball team huddles before a home game. The North Kitsap School District offers 10 athletic opportunities for boys and girls at the high school level throughout the year.  - Brad Camp/File Photo
The Kingston High School Volleyball team huddles before a home game. The North Kitsap School District offers 10 athletic opportunities for boys and girls at the high school level throughout the year.
— image credit: Brad Camp/File Photo

Equal access, equal opportunity ... priceless

NORTH END — The North Kitsap School District’s received an educational offer for a price which is near impossible to refuse: free.

During the NKSD board of directors regular December meeting, Linda Mangel, a sports equity advocate with the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington Foundation (ACLU), invited the district to participate in a gender equity public education and outreach campaign focusing on Title IX.

Title IX is part of a federal law mandating equity for men and women in all aspects of public education – academic opportunities, counseling and athletics/activities.

Mangel spoke at the meeting on behalf of the Women’s Sports Foundation, which partnered with the ACLU of Washington. The two organizations secured a one-year grant to host Title IX, sports and activities, seminars and workshops for all the district’s stakeholders – athletic directors, coaches, administrators, parents, PTA’s, basically anyone in the community who’d like to attend.

In addition to Washington Title IX workshops are being offered to school districts in California and Pennsylvania.

“I hope the North Kitsap School District will decide to take advantage of the opportunity,” Mangel said. “If you act now it’s free.”

Although the board was listening intently, all were alerted to attention by Mangel’s the-price-is-right offer, and were in consensus Mangel should be told yes.

Val Torrens jocularly, but seriously, asked “Can we say yes?”

“The price is truly right,” Torrens said. “My personal recommendation is I think we should do this. I think it’s a great idea.”

Dan Delaney appreciated the proactive approach of the Title IX workshops and called for Superintendent Rick Jones to start up conversations with the two organizations.

Jones acquiesced.

“I’m happy to come back with a recommendation for this,” Jones said, “I’ll definitely come back next month with a follow up on what we’ve done.”

The district’s executive team was to meet Thursday and discuss what they should do, said Chris Willits, the district’s Title IX officer.

However, last week’s weather halted the initial conversation. Although a decision has yet to be reached it’s likely NKSD will take Mangel up on her offer.

“While we’re in compliance now it doesn’t mean getting information out there about Title IX and raising the awareness may bring things to light and get a different perspective,” Willits said. “I heard the board saying they’re interested and there would have to be some pretty compelling reasons to say no. If that’s the direction we chose to go it will be good.”

Title IX and NKSD

Every year NKSD submits a Title IX “assurance” form to the state, showing the district’s compliance with the law.

Every three years a Title IX compliance report, including a student interest survey, is submitted.

All students in grades six through 11 answer the survey, which is used to determine if NKSD’s offering activities the students enjoy and the reasons students don’t participate.

In addition to the student survey, the compliance report investigates quality of equipment, practice and competition facilities, the number of competitive events, the amount of coaching received and coaching compensation, support programs, publicity efforts and the amount of medical and training services between boys and girls athletic programs.

The in-depth, three-year compliance report was submitted during the 2007-08 school year, and the findings look good.

“We are considered to be, by their standards, in compliance,” Willits said. “The previous report essentially looked the same.”

Although NKSD is and has been in good standing with Title IX mandates, and Willits said the district has a “very equitable arrangement and people are aware and have been trained,” there’s always room for improvement and feedback.

“We think we’re doing a good job. It will be interesting if we have the workshops if that’s the opinion of our community or if we’ll hear some things we need to hear,” Willits said.

Mangel hit this chord in advocating for her cause as she told the board, there’s always going to be problems and complaints go down as conversations happen.

“A coordinated effort involving the whole community is by far the most successful and productive approach,” she said.

The district still has time to make a decision and if it’s a “Yea,” there’s lots of flexibility in how the workshops can be run.

Mangel said she could come back and put on a single, one-hour workshop, as many times as the district would like. She could talk to coaches only or all the interested parties.

It’s up to the district to decide.

The board’s next regular meeting is at 7 p.m. Jan. 8, 2009, in the conference room at the Student Support Services building off Caldart Avenue.

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