New York Times reporter Katie Thomas has written a series of articles about the failure of the Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, to enforce Title IX which requires any school that receives federal funds to offer girls and young women equal access to athletics. But so far, the Office of Civil Rights, like UCLA receivers last year, has dropped the ball. Ms. Thomas writes:
The Office for Civil Rights certainly has the power to enforce the law: any school that is found to be violating Title IX risks losing its federal funds. But that punishment has never been used since Congress passed the law in 1972. And the office cannot cite any instance in which a case of suspected discrimination against female athletes was referred to the justice department for additional action. The situation has led many to ask how a federal law can be effective if it is not significantly enforced.
But Ms. Thomas also identifies one institution which has stonewalled during a 13 year investigation. You know who that is and the sorry evidence is laid out in several key grafs after the jump.Linda Joplin, a member of the California chapter of the National Organization for Women, filed a complaint in 1998 against southern cal alleging that women at the school were denied their fair share of spending and scholarships. But then the foot dragging began:
After the Office for Civil Rights began its investigation, U.S.C. dug in its heels, recalled Patricia Shelton, the longtime lead investigator on the case, who has since retired.
U.S.C. insisted it was doing right by its female students, offering them, for example, the maximum number of athletic scholarships permitted under the rules.
But Shelton, the agency’s investigator, said the university also declined to turn over key financial data that would have shown whether it was spending equal amounts of money on men’s and women’s teams.
The delays have infuriated Ms. Joplin who filed the original complaint. The N.Y. Times reports:
Joplin, the woman who first brought the case, said the office’s slow response has hurt uncounted female students. And she questioned whether the knowledge that an institution has never lost its funds for violating Title IX played a role in U.S.C.’s past failure to comply.
"They’re willing to take the funding from the federal government," she said, "but they’re not willing to abide by federal law."
Southern cal's lawyer, Kelly Bendell, claims her client had complied with all information requests. According to Ms. Bendell southern cal "had complied with all requests for information after initially resisting because of concerns about turning over proprietary financial data."
What an answer. At least at the initial stages of the investigation, she admits her client refused to cooperate in a federal gender discrimination investigation.
The Times article makes it clear there is plenty of blame to go around. It is expected the southern cal investigation will end this year. And the feds did nothing between between 2003 to 2008 in connection with the southern cal investigation. Also, other investigations have been botched according to Ms. Thomas. Pretty ugly stuff.
Last add. Why hasn't the L.A. Times broken this story or reported it in this depth? It has been scooped by a newspaper located 3,000 miles away. Some would call it trojan bias. I think its that the L.A. Times sports section staff is comprised of very mediocre reporters.