The U.S. Department of Education has sent further warning to three Connecticut school districts that over $18 million in federal funding will be withheld unless the districts cut ties with the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the state’s governing body for high school athletics.
A report in the New York Times Friday confirmed the department Office for Civil Rights has sent a new warning to officials for the Hartford, New Haven and Groton school districts. The OCR cites the CIAC policy of allowing transgender student athletes to compete on teams that correspond to their gender identity citing violation of Title IX, the federal law the prohibits sex discrimination in program receiving federal funds. The CIAC contends that their policy is in line with Connecticut state law, which has held gender identity as a protected class since 2011.
“Connecticut applicants declined — on multiple occasions — to assure the Office for Civil Rights that they are in compliance with Title IX,” Department of Education spokesperson Angela Morabito said to the New York Times.
According to the report, the funding will affect magnet schools in the districts that part of programs toward school desegregation and fostering school choice. The latter is an issue that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has publicly championed.
Earlier this month, New Haven’s Board of Education reaffirmed its membership in the CIAC. “This is effectively extortion,” Justin Elicker, a board member and New Haven’s Mayor told the New Haven Independent. “Taking away funding from our public schools in order to put us in position where we go against important policies.”
New Haven’s Board will pursue their legal options. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has previously stated his office would “vigorously oppose” any efforts to cut funds due the state.
The state’s chief executive maintained the silence he’s held for nearly 100 days on the matter. Governor Ned Lamont last made a public comment on this issue on June 12. He said he’s “not willing to lose federal education dollars over a state policy that allows transgender athletes to participate as girls in high school sports.”
Outsports attempted to contact Gov. Lamont regarding this new warning. As of press time, there was no response.