Small Schools Claim Discrimination in Athletics


The allocation of funds for New York City public school sports teams is inequitable, according to a complaint filed by the Small Schools Athletic League with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The complaint charges that the New York City Department of Education is violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in its funding of high school sports. David Garcia-Rosen, founder of the League and dean of a south Bronx school, alleges that schools whose student populations are mainly black and Hispanic are allocated significantly less funding for high school sports by the Public Schools Athletic League than schools with predominantly white student bodies.

Garcia-Rosen founded the Small Schools Athletic League (SSAL) in fall 2011 in response to the lack of support that small schools received from the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL), which is funded by the Department of Education. According to Garcia-Rosen, after PSAL denied International Community High School funding for cricket and baseball teams, his principal agreed to fund the soccer team using the school’s budget. Garcia-Rosen subsequently founded the SSAL, consisting of 37 high schools that compete in several sports. Because the league is funded completely by school budgets, the teams lack sustainability.

Garcia-Rosen’s ensuing research on sports leagues’ funding, gleaned from the education department and PSAL websites, indicated that small schools, which are frequently in districts with higher populations of poorer students of color, received significantly less funding than larger schools that have proportionally more white students. Garcia-Rosen wrote in his complaint, “some high schools get as many as 44 D.O.E.-funded teams, while others get nothing. … This means that some public high schools have a $250,000 NYC D.O.E.-funded world class sports program, while others get denied funding for even one team.”

New York City plans to include the small-schools league as a division of the Public Schools Athletic League next year. Garcia-Rosen claims however that the city produced little information about how it would financially support the small-schools division.

June 17, 2014

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