MANHATTAN— After a federal investigation found that girls' sports got the short shrift in New York City public schools, the Department of Education will soon be asking girls in eighth to 12th grades at every school across the city what sports they want and will add accordingly, according a settlement from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights released Tuesday.
The investigation claimed the city's school system violated the Title IX law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, estimating that an additional 3,862 spots for girls in athletic programs would be needed to level the playing field.
In the settlement to address the issue, however, the DOE denied violating the 1972 law that requires high school girls are provided equal opportunities to play sports as boys.
"The stark statistics represent lost opportunities that would have enriched girls’ high school experience and boosted their academic performance and overall health," said Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, which filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights about the issue in 2010.
The investigation found schools failed to accommodate girls' interest in sports like volleyball, softball, soccer and cross-country.
DOE officials, however, said they've added a number of sports for girls since 2009, including rugby, flag football, Double Dutch and wrestling and added STUNT, a type of cheerleading sport, this year.
The total number of spots on girls' teams jumped nearly 27 percent since then to 22,286 in 2014, according to DOE data. Over the next four years, the city budgeted an additional $1 million for the Public School Athletic League — enough to add a total of 96 teams.
"This agreement will enable us to add new girls’ teams, create athletic programs that are more responsive to students’ interests and expand opportunities for participation," DOE spokesman Jason Fink said. "We have been and remain deeply committed to ensuring that all of our students have access to our outstanding athletic programs.”
The surveys to girls at the city's schools must be conducted by June 30, report its findings by the fall and add new sports options for girls, as required, in the coming years, the settlement said.