The Wake County school board agreed Wednesday to settle a federal discrimination complaint by looking at expanding high school athletic opportunities for female students.
Under the agreement, Wake will survey by Dec. 1 all female high school students and those in the eighth grade to gauge their interest in sports that are not now offered by the district. Based on the results, Wake will add athletic opportunities at the high schools for the 2013-14 school year.
“We want to ensure that all students who want to participate have equal access to those opportunities at school, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen those programs,” Superintendent Tony Tata said in a written statement.
The National Women’s Law Center had filed a complaint against Wake and 11 other school systems throughout the United States in November 2010, accusing the systems of failing to provide high school girls with equal opportunities as boys to play interscholastic sports.
The center, based in Washington, said the school districts are in violation of Title IX, the 40-year-old federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs. The group says the districts have high schools with double-digit gaps between the percentage of students who are girls and the percentage of athletes who are girls, a charge Wake has denied.
The group filed a complaint against one system in each of the 12 regions overseen by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
Wake school officials say they offer every women’s sport sanctioned by the N.C. High School Athletics Association, plus gymnastics. The voluntary agreement contains no admission of discrimination by Wake or finding of fault by federal officials.
“The District is proud of the accomplishments of its athletic program for female students and looks forward to continuing to support extensive opportunities for female athletes,” according to the agreement.
Staff writer Tim Stevens contributed to this report.Hui: 919-829-4534