Soccer Parent Alleges MHS Girls’ Team Elimination Is Discrimination
A parent of a girl on the co-ed soccer team at Magnolia High School confronted the Wetzel County Board of Education Monday night suggesting that eliminating the girl’s soccer team at the school violates Title IX law.
Enacted on June 23, 1972, Title IX states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under an education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
Steve Mullet read a prepared statement that said, “Wetzel county parents believe the girls playing soccer at Magnolia High School were treated unfairly when the team was terminated. We feel eliminating Magnolia’s girls’ soccer team puts the Wetzel County Board of Education in violation of the law with regards to Title IX. The girls’ team should be immediately reinstated.”
After meeting with MHS Principal Kathi Schmalz on Aug. 10 and getting commitment from players and parents, Mullett said Schmalz promised that the girls would not be let down this year and the girls’ team would continue.
However, after the practice on Aug. 12 the girls came home with news that the girls’ soccer team was terminated and the next day they were joining the boy’s team. “Along with other parents of both the boys and girls teams, I called Superintendent (Bill) Jones on Thursday, August 12, pleading to keep Magnolia’s girls soccer team,” said Mullett. “On August 13th, the boy’s team went coed.”
“The reason given by the county superintendent was that there were not enough players to start with,” said Mullett. “Let me assure you that there were and still are ample, eligible, and willing students to support a girls soccer team at Magnolia High School this year.”
“The playing field remains far from level,” said Mullett. “To my knowledge, school administrators have done nothing to reverse the discrimination placed on the students of Magnolia’s girls’ soccer team.”
Mullett said there were originally 14 girls willing to play soccer, a game that requires the fielding of 11 players. However now only seven girls remain on the co-ed team. “After sitting the bench last Friday in Morgantown, against a team that had a girl captain and played several girls the entire game, last years’ team captain and another junior letterman quit the boys’ team,” said Mullet. “No one can deny that these girls have been let down by our county and school administrators.”
Mullett got emotional as he talked about his daughter, Dallas Mullett, a junior, who was the leading scorer her freshman year and received OVAC honorable mention last year. “This year, Dallas sat the bench every varsity game,” lamented Mullett. “None of these girls have an opportunity for OVAC recognition on the boys’ team.”
Soccer sectionals start in mid-October and it would require 14 practices/days to get all 14 girls who committed to the girls team at the beginning of season to be eligible to compete as a girl’s team, so obviously time is running out.
Board President Mike Blair asked Superintendent Jones to gather information on the matter and e-mail board members on Tuesday, Sept. 21.
“If we have the number of girls it takes to field a soccer team, we’ll field a soccer team,” said Jones. “We did the next best thing we knew, which was to create a co-ed soccer team. We did not eliminate girls soccer.”
Mullet said he did not know if the current co-ed soccer assistant coach is willing to be the girls coach if a team was reinstated.