Girls soccer and softball will be offered as team sports at Davis high schools, the Davis School Board decided Tuesday night.
In a 4-1 vote, the board approved the two sports with a beginning price tag of $73,560. The sports programs, which include 16 inter-school games and team rosters of 20 to 25 players, will cost about $30,000 to operate each year, said Jim Hill, head of district sports programs.The vote follows the filing of a sex-discrimination complaint by Davis District psychologist and Roy resident Joe Langeveld with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights in Denver. Langeveld contended that six Utah school districts including Davis violated Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments because they sponsored varsity soccer teams for boys but not for girls.
In January, the Utah High School Activities Association sanctioned both girls soccer and softball.
Gilbert Roman, director of the Office of Civil Rights, said Monday that the complaint against Davis district would be dropped if the school district adopted the sports.
Robert Thurgood, said in casting the dissenting vote,"My big concern is that Office of Civil Rights is dictating how we should run our board. It's almost like a dictatorship. I can see the need, but I can't see the funds."
Thurgood said he did not understand how board members could vote for more spending when only a few months ago they were talking about cutting sports programs during the debate about tax-limitation initiatives. Board Chairman Lynn Summerhays said the cost of fighting the complaint in court would be far greater than adopting the programs.
"Cost is not the issue, but the civil rights and opportunities for the young ladies in our district," said Board Member Dan Eastman.
Participants on the girls teams will be charged $30 to help offset coaching costs. Most of the the other money required to sponsor the teams will have to come from district coffers or be raised through student activity fees or fund raising, Hill said.
A survey conducted near the end of January by the state Office of Education for Davis district showed that 45 percent of the girls in high schools were interested in participating in softball. Another 38 percent indicated interest in soccer. A higher percentage of girls indicated an interest in gymnastics and bowling, sports not offered at the schools, than they did in soccer.
A majority of the boys who answered the survey said they would like to participate in football. 46 percent said they would like to participate in basketball. Another 43 percent said they would like to participate in volleyball, a sport which does not have a competitive status in the state.