The Houston Independent School District held a press conference this afternoon to attempt to respond to allegations that the district doesn't give girl athletes the same opportunities as boy athletes.
Trouble is, the district hasn't received any official notice or complaint from the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, so there isn't much to respond to. In fact, all the district has only seen the press release issued by the National Women's Law Center, which Hair Balls reported on earlier today.
"We're just beginning to look at this," said Marmion Dambrino, the district's athletic director. "If the district if found to be out of compliance, then we'll work closely with the Office of Civil Rights to be compliant.
She added, "This is nothing to be upset about."
Perhaps the most interesting thing we learned today was how HISD determines which schools get which sports.
It's up to the school, Dambrino said, to determine each year the students' interest in a particular sport, and if there's enough interest, the school can purchase that athletic package from the district.
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Gauging that interest, however, or lack thereof, is quite informal. It's basically finding out the word on the street, and Dambrino explained it like this: "Girls will talk if there's an interest."
We imagine that "student interest" sometimes gets translated to "principal interest" or "what can the school afford?" And each school's athletic budget varies, because each school has a different general budget, determined by enrollment.
The district currently has about 8,000 girl athletes (there are 13,000 boys), and while basketball and volleyball draw good numbers, Dambrino said that "lifetime sports" like golf and tennis are lacking.
"We have improved, but are we where we want to be?" Dambrino said. "We can always improve."