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BCSD receives Title IX complaint

by EMILY BONSANT
Staff Writer | February 2, 2023 1:00 AM

BONNERS FERRY — A Title IX complaint is alleging the Boundary County School District is not providing equal opportunities for female high school athletes.

Mark Rossmiller, a Sandpoint resident and an ally of the National Women's Law Center, filed the complaint against BCSD and reported it to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights on Jan. 26.

Rossmiller previously filed a Title IX complaint against Lake Pend Oreille School District in 2021, allegedly failing to adequately address Title IX concerns.

BCSD 101 Superintendent Jan Bayer told the Herald the district is looking into claims made in the complaint, which was received on the evening of Jan. 27.

“Our district has been actively addressing potential concerns raised by Mr. Rossmiller. At this time, we will continue to work diligently to ensure equitable treatment. Unfortunately, a complaint was filed and we will work through all the needed steps,” she said.

In the complaint, Rossmiller alleges that “evidence indicates that for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 girls interscholastic athletic programs do not provide full, effective and equal accommodations when compared to accommodations provided boys interscholastic sports.”

In the complaint, Rossmiller cited primetime game scheduling; frequency, quality, and quantity of equipment and uniform provision and replacement; travel, per diem, and out of region/state quality of competition, and overnight accommodations.

Rossmiller further claimed that BFHS does not provide opportunities for girls to play sports in numbers substantially proportionate to their enrollment. From 2015 through 2016 there was a participation gap, percentage of girls enrolled and percentage of female athletes was 240 and 36.5%, he wrote in the complaint.

He said that if BFHS provided girls with athletic opportunities “substantially proportionate to enrollment,” he alleged an additional 29 females for those school years would have been able to play sports.

He alleged that the high school reported numbers that were “erroneous or fictitious” to the Civil Rights Data Collection, including reporting that no sports exist when they do and allegedly inflating participation, which he claimed were padded with cheerleading and dance activity numbers.

He said CRDC data reported by BFHs indicated there are five male interscholastic sports including 10 teams, whereas there are four female sports with eight teams, which allegedly are not all at an interscholastic level equal to male interscholastic sports.

He added that BFHS cannot establish a 10-year history and continuing practice of program expansion year-by-year that is responsive to the developing interest and abilities of “underrepresented” high school females.

At the Backwoods Brawl spirit competition and basketball games against Timberlake High School, varsity girl basketball played the 7 p.m. slot with the boys' varsity team playing at 5:30 p.m.

Badger sports teams can hold only two fundraisers per year. In the past three seasons, Badgers girls' sports have grown significantly.

Badger volleyball had a huge turnout with nearly 40 athletes coming to tryouts. The program even added a C team. Badger volleyball raised $4,600 in pre-sale tickets for Volley for the Cure and at their car wash on Aug. 20. Funds went toward uniforms, tournament costs, new equipment, and toward new equipment for Valley View, since the C team practiced there.

This year, girls soccer had 18 players and started the season with one coach. It was decided that there would not be a JV team. Boys soccer had one coach, three volunteer coaches, and a varsity and JV team.

Badger girls basketball also has a C team this year with about 27 girls coming out for tryouts. Both basketball teams fundraise with camps for future Badgers. The boys basketball team also has an alumni basketball tournament on New Year’s Eve.

In 2022, Badger softball saw huge growth with 32 players coming out. The program had to max out JV and varsity teams at 16 players.

Rossmiller in the complaint said that volleyball had a car wash fundraiser and questioned whether football has to do any fundraising.

Badger football hosted a lift-a-thon fundraiser on Aug. 19 before their Blue and White Scrimmage. In August, head coach Travis Hinthorn said that the event was such a success that time of print the program didn’t know how much was raised, but that eight players raised more than $12,000.

BFHS cross country hosted their regular car wash fundraiser.

Badger boys and girls wrestling split and sell firewood every year as a fundraiser. Head coach Kevin Campbell said the funds are used for team travel, hotels and food when the team travels, and funds are being saved for when new wrestling mats are needed.

Girls wrestling is growing as a sport in Idaho and the Badger girls are defending District I and II champions and have won a majority of the tournaments they have competed in this season.

The Badgers split between 12 to 16 cords of wood each year, for $225 a cord.

Badger cheerleading fundraised through a carwash and selling refreshments at Kootenai River Days. The team hopes to host a cheer camp in the future to grow cheerleading in the county and as a fundraising opportunity.

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