Pekin Community High School District 303 is making some changes that will merge athletic booster clubs to address sexual discrimination findings by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
The changes will address findings into allegations that were filed in September by a former girls softball coach of sexual discrimination under Title IX.
The District received a list of findings from OCR in January related to inventories, supplies and equipment purchases, food/hotel and charter bus services, inter-school scrimmages advertisements and the use of locker rooms by male and female athletes of all sports. The District has sent a plan to address the findings to OCR, some of which are already being enforced.
Superintendent Danielle Owens said there has been no formal resolution of the Title IX issues raised by former girls softball coach Gigi MacIntosh, who has since retired from the District.
Owens said she talked with booster club presidents Monday night and head coaches last week about the need for changes. The new measures to resolve the OCR findings were met with mixed reactions from coaches and booster club presidents, but necessary, Owens said.
“What’s happening, because we have booster clubs in some programs and we haven’t been tracking what booster clubs have been providing athletes, we can’t ensure equity amongst programs,” said Owens. “So, for instance, one program may have a booster club that’s giving all the athletes snacks for away games, matching socks — whatever the case may be — but we haven’t been tracking that.
“At the end of the day, if we can’t show that what girls booster programs gave to their athletes and what boys booster programs gave to their athletes are equal, then we’re out of compliance and we can’t show that because we haven’t been tracking that.”
A committee of “stakeholders” will be formed to find a way to merge booster clubs by February 2017. The committee will consist of parents, coaches, administrators and school board members. The goal is to find more equity and efficiency for all athletes at the high school.
There are 19 different sports at PCHS with nine having sports booster clubs, all with separate by-laws, policies and procedures.
The inequities include things such as scholarships for some sports athletes, cheerleaders and pom pons at boys athletic events and not at girls. Owens said there was no malice behind the inequities. Coaches were always given discretion for things like money for meals.
“This booster committee (is) going to have to make decisions about how are we going to handle scholarships, how are we going to handle fundraisers, how are we going to handle concession stands,” said Owens. “I explained to everybody that we need to decide what is the school’s responsibility, what’s the parents’ responsibility and what is the boosters’ purpose.”
The pooling of booster club funds raised for sports will eliminate duplication of efforts.
“I think we live in a very giving community — I think the community gives a lot,” said Owens. “I think we always are the ones raising the most money for Blackout Night (a fundraiser for Easter Seals), Volley for a Cure, and all of the things that we do.
“But we have all of these different organizations that continually hit up local businesses for donations whether it’s girl’s softball, boys football, girls swimming — and that’s just Pekin High (sports boosters). You still have student council. You still have all of these different clubs. Then you have all of these other places whether its JFL, or PCSA (Pekin Community Softball Association), Boys and Girls Club that local businesses are getting hit up constantly for donation, where we could go to them one time and say, would you donate to the Pekin Booster Club or whatever we’re going to call it. And we would only ask one time for everybody at (PCHS). I do think we have businesses in town that would appreciate that.”
Follow Sharon Woods Harris at Twitter.com/sharrispekin