Seeking more opportunity for female athletes, Voorheesville adds indoor track

Enterprise file photo – Michael Koff
Lacrosse: Not just for boys? To create even more parity between boys’ and girls’ sports in Voorheesville, the athletic director and middle-school principal will meet with middle-school girls interested in modified lacrosse to see about developing a program. 

VOORHEESVILLE – The Voorheesville Board of Education, in its effort to encourage greater participation by female athletes in sports, at its May meeting approved creating a varsity indoor track team for boys and girls next year.

Superintendent Brian Hunt said that indoor track had been a club sport this past winter, and that it had significant participation from both girls and boys.

Also at the meeting, the board was presented with the most recent participation rates for boys’ and girls’ athletics, and heard of other opportunities to create parity between the genders.

The addition of a new sport and reporting of participation rates comes after concerns were raised at previous school board meetings about fewer sports teams for girls and compliance with Title IX.

Voorheesville offers these boys-only sports: golf, football, soccer, basketball, swimming, volleyball, wrestling, baseball, lacrosse, and tennis. The district offers these girls-only sports: cheerleading, volleyball, swimming, soccer, basketball, and softball. Girls and boys both compete in three sports: cross-country, bowling, and track.

Title IX is the federal civil rights law that seeks to end discrimination in schools based on gender, and prohibits sex discrimination in interscholastic, intercollegiate, club, or intramural athletics.

The United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights uses a three-part test to determine compliance:

–  The number of male and female athletes is substantially proportionate to their respective enrollments; or

– The institution has a history and continuing practice of expanding participation opportunities responsive to the developing interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex; or

– The institution is fully and effectively accommodating the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.

An institution is in compliance if it meets one of the three parts of the test.

The district is in compliance with Title IX based on part one of the test.

For the 2017-18 school year, Voorheesville has 574 students enrolled in grades seven through 12; 295 are boys, 51 percent, and 279 are girls, 49 percent.

There are 382 athletic participants in 2017-18; 199 are boys, 52 percent, and 183 are girls, 48 percent.

The number of athletic participants who are girls, 48 percent, is proportionally tolerant, to the number of enrolled girls, 49 percent.

A woman at the May 7 meeting questioned the board about the participation rate, saying that the data were misleading because one student could account for two or three athletic participants, and, therefore the data did not show almost-equivalent participation.

Neena Chaudhry, senior counsel and director of education for the National Women’s Law Center, told The Enterprise that when the participation rate is calculated, every time that a student-athlete occupies a spot on a team, he or she
is to be counted as a participant. As a result, multi-sport athletes can be counted multiple times.

By adding indoor track for next year, Voorheesville is also working toward compliance with part two of the test.

Hunt said, based on a student survey, that modified volleyball “has a real chance,” to run next year, and, that it was included in this year’s athletic budget but didn’t run. Modified sports serve seventh- and eighth-graders.

He also said that Athletic Director Joseph Sapienza and Jennifer Drautz, the middle-school principal, will meet with a group of middle-school girls who have expressed interest in modified lacrosse, and, based on that meeting, Sapienza will make a determination as to how to develop a program.

 

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