Stephenville Independent School District has been accused of discrimination against female softball players under Title IX — charges school officials firmly deny.
A complaint has been filed with the Dallas office of the federal Office for Civil Rights, starting an investigation that will include interviews with several Stephenville coaches and a tour of the district’s athletic facilities.
According to a letter from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the “complainant alleged that the SISD discriminated against the female athletes on the softball team by failing to provide females … equivalent athletic opportunity” in provision of locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities and provision of medical and training facilities and services.
Stephenville Superintendent Dr. Darrell Floyd denied both charges. He was unable to release the identity of the person who filed the complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, citing the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act.
“Stephenville ISD has gone to great lengths in the past few years to provide equal opportunities in athletics for girls,” Floyd said.
He first learned of the complaint when contacted by the OCR.
“It disappoints me greatly that this complainant never brought these allegations to the district prior to filing a complaint directly with the OCR,” Floyd said.
Facility inspections and on-site interviews have been scheduled for July 11 and 12, beginning with Floyd and Athletic Director Chad Morris, who referred inquiries to Floyd.
“I don’t think anything’s going to come of this,” Floyd said.
With rare exceptions, the Honeybees play their home games at McCleskey Field in the Stephenville City Park.
Still, “there is no discrimination against softball athletes due to playing off-site because we also play football, tennis (boys and girls), cross country (boys and girls), golf (boys and girls) and soccer (boys and girls) away from the high school campus,” Floyd said.
The district has a “great relationship” with the City of Stephenville and has invested “significant amounts of money” to improve the field, Floyd added.
“Since the initiation of girls’ softball at (SHS), the city and school district have funded roughly $100,000 of improvements to (McCleskey Field),” Floyd said, including an irrigation system, bleachers, new fencing, scoreboard and batting cages.
Plus, “locker rooms are available at the high school for every female athlete,” Floyd said.
Nick Petro, head coach of the Honeybees softball team, was unfamiliar with the complaint.
“To be quite honest with you, nothing’s been said about Title IX to me,” Petro said.
Petro is also scheduled for an interview with the federal investigator, as are fellow coaches Mike Dacus, Brice Crippen, Ron Berry, Fran Campos, Patti Williams, Kim Kaiser, Cindy Davis and head athletic trainer Mike Carroll.
The accusations regarding inequitable access to medical and training facilities and services were unfounded, Floyd said.
“Female athletes have the same availability to SISD medical and training facilities and services as do the boys,” he said.
Part of the complaint hinged on the fact that a certified trainer did not travel with the Honeybees softball team to every away game.
However, Floyd said, “it is the home team’s responsibility to provide an athletic trainer at every home athletic event, which we do.
“And in addition to that, we also send at least one SHS student trainer with our softball girls when they travel to away games,” he said.