COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education
May 28, 2010
TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction
On April 20, 2010, the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the U. S. Department of Education, Russlynn Ali, issued a Dear Colleague letter that was distributed to all recipients of federal monies. The focus of the letter is on the process by which intercollegiate athletic programs provide proof that they fully and effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex. This is better known as “Part Three of the Three-Part Test.” The letter officially withdraws the “Additional Clarification of Intercollegiate Athletics Policy: Three Part Test-Part Three” (2005 Additional Clarification) and all related documents accompanying it, including the “User’s Guide to Student Interest Surveys under Title IX” (User’s Guide) and related technical support, that were issued by the United States Department of Education on March 17, 2005.
The letter further clarifies that the “Intercollegiate Athletics Policy Interpretation” (1979 Policy Interpretation), published on December 11, 1979, and the “Clarification of Intercollegiate Athletics Policy Guidance: The Three-Part Test” (1996 Clarification) remain in effect and provide the applicable standards for evaluating Part Three compliance. Additionally, users are to note that the “Further Clarification of Intercollegiate Athletics Policy Guidance Regarding Title IX Compliance,” which was issued as a Dear Colleague letter on July 11, 2003, reincorporates the 1996 Clarification’s broad range of specific factors. Therefore, it too is still applicable.
The information the Office for Civil Rights would like for interscholastic athletics to glean from the Dear Colleague letter is that although the 1979 Policy Interpretation is designed for intercollegiate athletics, its general principles, and those of the letter, will also often apply to them (44 Fed. Reg. at 71413). For example, the 1979 Policy Interpretation addresses the quality of competitive opportunities offered to members of both sexes in determining whether an institution effectively accommodates the athletic interests and abilities of its students (44 Fed. Reg. at 71418). Therefore, this should be considered when assessing interscholastic athletic programs as well. Lastly, schools that have interscholastic athletics are reminded that the overriding Title IX regulation mandates them to provide equal athletic opportunities consistent with its nondiscrimination requirements [34 C.F.R. § 106.41(c)].
We look forward to continuing to work with school divisions across the state to ensure compliance with Title IX requirements and equal access to quality education. The full text of the Dear Colleague letter can be found at http://ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-20100420.html. For more information, you may contact Dr. Sandra E. Ruffin, director of federal program monitoring, at Sandra.Ruffin@doe.virginia.gov or (804)225-2768. You may also contact Mrs. Bonnie B. English, civil rights monitoring specialist, at (804) 225-2618 or Bonnie.English@doe.virginia.gov. Additional technical assistance is available by contacting the OCR enforcement office that serves Virginia. This information is available at http://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/CFAPPS/OCR/contactus.cfm.