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Investigation begins into Beach athletics, federal agency says

Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Superintendent Beane remains optimistic

Superintendent Kathleen Beane of Colonial Beach Public Schools is optimistic that the division will be able to move forward.

Her remarks followed a complaint issued to a federal agency regarding the high school’s extracurricular activities. The superintendent was notified by the Department of Education’s Civil Rights office about the complaint, which concerned the alleged discrimination between male and female athletes.

“My ultimate hope is that they don’t find disparity,” Beane said, adding she has no knowledge of who filed the complaint.

The Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office will be looking into back Colonial Beach’s athletics program for the first time after allegations of discrimination between boys and girls athletes.

The complainant alleges that the school division discriminated against the high school female athletes by failing to provide them with specific facilities that the male athletes have, said spokesperson Jim Bradshaw, of the U.S. Department of Education.

Bradshaw added that facilities involving locker rooms, practice fields and competitive fields were mentioned in the complaint.

Beane said the school division and school board have been proactive regarding the athletic facilities. Before the investigation begins this week, Beane said the Civil Rights office received the requested documentation about the facilities and schedules.

According to school board minutes from last October, former athletic director Steve Swope reported a Title XI facilities survey was taken. In the meeting, he addressed the board that all facilities were equal with the exception of the baseball field having lights and the softball field having none.

Before crediting the Title XI committee for their assistance, Swope explained that the lights are rarely used as the softball team does not play evening games.

This past spring, a baseball game was called due to darkness, which caused confusion between players, fans and school leaders.

Beane said she was well aware of the situation following her decision to place a lock box on the operating switch for the field lights. Her conditions for the lights to be on was that the girls had to be completed with their game, which started at the same time as the boys, and the officials determined it would a safety issue to complete the baseball game without lights.

Beane said she is well aware Colonial Beach is among a number of school divisions challenged with disparity between male and female high school student athletes.

“I think they’re all trying to equalize what they can to make sure there is equity between sexes in sports,” Beane said. “I didn’t ignore what I knew could possibly happen.”

The investigation will follow with two more sessions, the last ending in the early fall after conducting interviews with students and school leaders.