Swimsuit costs cause stir at south suburban school district

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ill. -- The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has scrutinized the cost of swimsuits for physical education classes at a Chicago suburb school district.

A letter the district received from the federal agency alleges Lincoln-Way High School District 210 discriminated against female students by charging them more for swimsuits than male students and failed to meet Title IX requirements by not properly disseminating information about nondiscrimination, the Daily Southtown reported.

The letter written by supervisory attorney Marcela Sanchez-Aguilar says the district is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sex in any education program or activity because it receives Title IX funds. If it marks up the costs, the district was required to explain why it charges females more for the swimsuits than males, and why there is a difference in price, according to the letter.

Tingley said the district has responded to the complaint and expects an early resolution.

Superintendent Scott Tingley said the district offers swimsuits for sale to families, at prices lower than the manufacturer's suggested retail price. Boys are charged $25 for swim gear, and girls, $40. He says retail prices are $38 and $65 respectively, giving girls a larger discount than boys.

"It's never been an issue," he said. "Boys' suits are not as expensive."

The district doesn't control the costs of the suits or earn revenue from the sales, according to Tingley. The district adds on shipping and handling costs as well as any costs incurred with stocking them and keeping an inventory.

He said students are permitted to wear their own suit, or something else, such as a sports bra and running shorts.