The Oregon Department of Education has launched an investigation into the Beaverton School District over potentially illegal discrimination against female student-athletes.
ODE is investigating seven allegations raised by Beaverton parents.
They include claims that female students are charged more to try out for sports, that girls are required to attend costly off-season camps and boys aren’t, and that hardship discounts are made available to boys and not to girls.
The state investigation will also look at whether Beaverton offers unequal access to athletic facilities and district transportation services, as well as whether girls have fewer athletic opportunities than boys.
The investigation follows complaints from Beaverton parents going back more than a year. Parents filed a lawsuit, and then withdrew it, after the district promised action. But parents say officials have been slow to make changes.
OPB previously reported on the parents’ complaints last April. At the time, Beaverton school board chair Ann Bryan acknowledged the district needed to look into equal treatment in athletics.
“I’ve been thinking back to a work session, too long ago, probably two and a half years now, where we started just looking at facilities and we at that time understood it was much bigger,” Bryan said at a January meeting.
Parents said they were frustrated with answers they were getting from Beaverton officials. They have since shared their concerns about Oregon’s third largest district with state and federal officials, and with the Oregon School Activities Association.
ODE has warned Beaverton that if the allegations are true, the treatment of male and female athletes could violate state law. In a letter sent Sept. 6, state education officials requested a host of documents, including written policies and contact information for relevant staff.
“The information that ODE asked the district to provide is the initial round of information to get the investigation started,” said ODE communications director Tricia Yates in an email to OPB.
Yates said ODE will hire an outside contractor to lead the investigation.
The Beaverton School District intends to comply with the document requests, according to district Public Communications Officer Maureen Wheeler.
“The district has been notified that ODE opened an investigation on an appeal alleging discrimination on the basis of sex and gender,” Wheeler said. “We will fully cooperate with ODE and provide them with any requested information during their investigation.”