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Complaint launches Title IX inquiry into LISD athletics

By Glenn Evans
April 8, 2013 at 10 p.m.

A federal investigation into whether Longview ISD treats boys and girls athletics equally reached the campus of Longview High School on Monday.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights was interviewing students and faculty, the district's spokesman confirmed. Facilities and equipment also were being inspected as part of the federal probe.

Former girls soccer coach Chris Yoder confirmed the investigation was in response to a complaint he filed against the school district.

It was unclear if investigators were on other district campuses. District officials could not be reached for comment.

The investigation is being conducted under Title IX of the U.S. education code. The section was established in 1972 to prevent gender discrimination in education programs, both in sports and academics, that receive federal financial assistance.

Yoder resigned last August from his position as the Lady Lobos soccer coach, but remains a career and technology teacher at the high school. In October, he told the Longview ISD school board he had resigned partly because the district did not compensate his coaching position on a level equal to other coaches on staff.

"I encourage the school board to take a close look at Title IX and assure that all sports are being treated fairly and equally as required under the law," Yoder told the board in October. "The Lobo football program is great and it deserves the recognition that it gets. Fortunately for all other sports at LHS, Title IX says that they deserve the same treatment."

He said Monday the investigation had been launched at the end of February but that athletic squads were being pulled from class Monday by the agents.

"They were scheduled to interview over 250 athletes," Yoder said. "I'm pretty sure every sport was represented."

He said his complaint chiefly dealt with facilities, equipment and the numbers of coaches girls sports are assigned as opposed to boys sports.

"That was a pretty big one," he said.

Yoder said he had carried his complaints first to the district's Title IX coordinator before turning to the school board.

"The school board decided to take no action with regards to my allegations," he said after noting he filed the complaint "only because I had exhausted every other way of bringing this to light."

After Yoder raised his concerns to the school board in October, LISD Athletic Director John King suggested Yoder's concerns were more about his own wages than Title IX.

"We're in a coaching position - not a get-rich profession," he said. "I think some people lose sight of that."

King provided information showing Yoder was paid more than the head boys soccer coach, both boys and girls golf coaches, the cross country/track coach, and the swimming coach.



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