Only Women Pay

San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District gets slapped with a Title IX suit.

The Texas Civil Rights Project and the parents of two San Marcos High School students slapped the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District with a Title IX lawsuit late last month, claiming the district is violating the law by not providing equal funding or opportunities for male and female athletes. The parents, Richard Salmon and Alise Mullins, have two daughters enrolled in San Marcos. SMCISD Superintendent Ann Dixon refused to comment on the suit, which is still in litigation. The TCRP says the suit is the fourth in a series of Title IX cases its T.E.A.M. (Teach, Empower, Achieve, and Motivate) Initiative will file around the state in the next year. The organization has already settled cases against the Channelview and Kilgore ISDs. "Title IX" refers to the 1972 federal law that requires equal educational opportunities for men and women.

Mullins said she and Salmon became disenchanted with the district after their oldest daughter joined the school's dance team and cheerleading squad. Male athletes' needs were fully paid for, she said, but dancers and cheerleaders had to pay tryout fees and buy their own uniforms and supplies. San Marcos students earn half a physical education credit for cheerleading, said TCRP lawyer Andrea Gunn, making it a legitimate athletic program. "In the Kilgore suit, that was the theory we used," she said. "Cheerleading isn't restricted to women, but traditionally it is mostly women."

For the 2000-01 school year, Mullins' two daughters decided to try swimming. Shortly thereafter, the district cut the program, which had more females than males.

Although Mullins doesn't have specific budget info on the men's programs (the TCRP plans to obtain it, Gunn said), she said, "I do think pretty much without a doubt the football boys are probably getting more than anyone." When she confronted San Marcos High Principal Julio Toro about exploring a Title IX suit, "He told me that football made more money and therefore they could spend more money on football." As the lawsuit points out, Title IX mandates equal funding for men's and women's programs, regardless of whether one produces more revenue than the other.

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