The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) ended its Title IX investigation of a complaint filed in January 2010 as a result of a decision to suspend intercollegiate tennis at Cuesta College, finding that the school did not violate the provisions of Title IX as they relate to intercollegiate athletics.

“OCR finds that there is insufficient evidence to support a conclusion of non-compliance with regard to the issue investigated,” wrote civil rights attorney Zachary Pelchat in a letter received last week. “Thus, OCR is closing this complaint.”

Cuesta Superintendent/President Gil Stork was gratified by the announcement.

“This ends a three-year investigation,” said Stork, who began his career at Cuesta as an assistant football coach in 1967. “Throughout the process we have steadfastly believed we were in compliance with Title IX edicts, and we feel vindicated by the OCR’s conclusion.

“The decision to suspend the program was based on the fact that the college was then in a period of steep budget cutbacks from the state. Since January of 2010, when I assumed duties as college president, we have seen our operating budget reduced by state lawmakers every year.”

The complaint was filed in January 2010, five months after the college suspended women’s tennis. Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 bans sex discrimination in schools receiving federal funds, whether it is in academics or athletics.

An investigative team from the Office of Civil Rights visited the campus in May of 2010 and conducted interviews with administrators, staff and students. Lawyers also reviewed documents and records submitted by the college and the plaintiff.

Last year, the college received a request for updated athlete population numbers.

In order to comply with Title IX, a school must meet one of three tests; if it passes any one, the school is in compliance, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The substantial proportionality test is most often used to determine Title IX compliance. It asks if an institution provides participation opportunities for women and men that are substantially proportionate to the greater student population.

Cuesta was in compliance, wrote Pelchat, who led the Office for Civil Rights team investigating the complaint.

Moreover, he wrote that the college’s athletic program affords “proportionally similar numbers” of men and women athletes with advanced competitive opportunities.

“OCR identified no disparities favoring one sex or the other in the competitive opportunities provided to male and female athletes,” he wrote.

Cuesta College offers 15 intercollegiate teams: eight women’s sports — basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, track and field, volleyball and water polo — and seven men’s sports — baseball, basketball, cross country, swimming and diving, track and field, water polo and wrestling.

Jay Thompson | (805) 546-3100, ext. 2636 | Email: | Posted Feb. 21, 2013