Teutopolis Unit 50 considers Title IX self-audit

·3 min read

Sep. 22—TEUTOPOLIS — The Teutopolis Unit 50 school board is considering conducting a Title IX self-audit to ensure the district is meeting federal regulations as they pertain to the school's various programs, particularly athletics.

During their meeting Monday, board members addressed the alleged disparities between the district's boys and girls athletic programs, which led one parent to threaten to file a complaint against the district with the Office of Civil Rights.

A Teutopolis parent who also works as an aide at Teutopolis Grade School, Carrie Copple, spoke at the board's August meeting and pressured officials to follow through on their plans to build a new softball facility.

Title IX requires schools to provide equal athletic opportunities for male and female students. This applies to facilities, equipment, locker rooms, and anything else that might limit or increase opportunities for athletes.

In response to parents' concerns, Unit 50 Superintendent Matthew Sturgeon proposed a plan to have a Title IX auditor come to the school to either ensure that the district meets Title IX standards or assist it in improving any areas necessary.

"I have reached out to a vendor for the possibility of a Title IX audit that would be requested by the board," Sturgeon said. "I made contact with them early last week, left a message, and have not yet heard back."

Sturgeon said he's still unsure of the extent to which the district will be reviewed, but he said they should be as transparent as possible to ensure all Title IX regulations are met.

"I'll fish again later this week and see if we potentially can get them to give me a little more information about pricing and scope," Sturgeon said.

"My hope would be, if the board's going to execute this, let's give them full access to everything we have and everything we are, whether that's financials, facilities, numbers through our athletic directors, participation, etc. and really let them take a good in-depth look and see what they may recommend for the district, for the board, and for our programs."

Board Vice President Troy Ozenkoski said although he doesn't necessarily think the board needs to bring someone in to review the district's facilities and programs, he admits something must be done to address recent concerns while the board works with the Teutopolis Park District on improving the district's softball facility.

"I'd prefer to not get outside people involved, but apparently they think that is what is needed, so I think we just do a self-audit as we wait," Ozenkoski said. "We've made proposals to the park district as they do their methodical slow review of what we've offered to pay."

Other board members also voiced their support for conducting a self-audit and said they want the scope of the audit to be as broad as possible to ensure that no disparity is overlooked.

"Basically, if we're gonna do it, we want to do it right," said Board Secretary Chandler Hewing.

The board's next regular meeting is scheduled for Oct. 17 at 6 p.m.

In other matters, the board:

—Held a budget hearing on the proposed budget for the 2022-23 school year and approved it.

—Approved the FFA's attendance at the National Convention Oct. 26-27 in Indianapolis.

—Approved an Advanced Basketball Skills Academy that Coach Stote Reeder will conduct.

—Accepted the resignation of Teutopolis Junior High School Cook Lisa Miller.

—Announced the district is applying for a $50,000 matching maintenance grant for Teutopolis Grade School for 2023.

—Approved the district's goals as presented. The goals were developed after five listening sessions that discussed the district's strengths and potential areas of improvement.

—Approved the bi-annual review of the district's bullying policy.

Nick Taylor can be reached at nick.taylor@effinghamdailynews.com or by phone at 618-510-9226 or 217-347-7151 ext. 300132.