Three Fayette high schools have gender equity problems, KHSAA says

Henry Clay High School is one of three Lexington high schools with gender equity issues, according to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.
Henry Clay High School is one of three Lexington high schools with gender equity issues, according to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.

Kentucky High School Athletics Association Commissioner Julian Tackett says that three Fayette County high schools had deficiencies in equity between boys’ baseball and girls’ softball programs and that school officials are not adequately reporting how they intended to fix them.

“These improvements simply have to be made,” Tackett said of issues at Lafayette, Henry Clay and Paul Laurence Dunbar. “The last thing I want to do is restrict the use of other facilities until they get these fixed. But we may have to do that.”

KHSAA is a private non profit that oversees high school athletics for the Kentucky Board of Education.

KHSAA officials audit all high schools in Kentucky to see if, as federal Title IX laws require, females get high school athletic opportunities and benefits equal to males.

Tackett gave the Kentucky Board of Education on Wednesday a report that showed deficiencies found in audits of Kentucky high schools on issues of gender equity during the last three years.

Statewide, deficiencies have decreased since about the year 2001.

But Tackett made references to deficiencies at the three schools in Lexington. There is disparity between provisions made for boys’ baseball compared to girls’ softball, he said.

Fayette County Public Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said in an interview Thursday that boosters built locker rooms for the boys in dugouts near the fields. The school district built softball fields and dugouts for the girls, but the girls’ lockers are inside the school gymnasium.

At Dunbar, the report said, the school was to submit information about the addition of a locker room at the softball field. By April 15, 2015, KHSAA wanted to see a timeline and drawings and documentation approved by the local school board. KHSAA determined that documentation received May 15, 2015, was incomplete.

At Lafayette, one of the problems was the lack of a locker room at the softball facility.

From Henry Clay in 2014-15, the KHSAA wanted to see plans for a softball locker room, but officials thought what they received was incomplete there as well.

On all three projects, KHSAA had asked for updates in 2016 on Jan. 31, March 31 and May 31.

“They’ve had a lot of administrative turnover, but their excuse time has run out for getting some reported information and a timeline for fixing it,” Tackett told the state board on Wednesday. “We’re going to get with them over the next couple of weeks.”

After the state board meeting on Wednesday, Tackett told the Herald-Leader, “We’ve not gotten any of that missing information.”

Tackett said KHSAA needed an assertion in writing “that the issue is going to be addressed.”

Tackett said KHSAA officials would talk to Fayette Superintendent Manny Caulk, who was hired last summer.

“I’m hopeful with the new administration … that we will be able to knock this out pretty quickly, but that will be up to them,” said Tackett.

Deffendall said Thursday that “the district is committed to providing equitable access and opportunity for all student athletes, as required by Title IX. “

“In the case of the softball facilities at Dunbar, Henry Clay and Lafayette, we recognize the discrepancy in the proximity of the locker rooms for the softball and baseball teams and have taken all possible steps to remedy the situation short of building new softball locker rooms,” Deffendall said.

She said the construction of softball locker rooms could not happen until they were included in the district facilities’ plan, which will be undergoing revision in the next few months.

Deffendall also said the school district athletic director would be following up with KHSAA to make sure that all paperwork “was accurate, on file and up to date.”

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears