Section 228.2001, Florida Statutes 2001
228.2001 Discrimination against students and employees in state system of public education; prohibitions; equality of access; strategies to overcome underrepresentation; remedies.--
(1) This section may be cited as the "Florida Educational Equity Act."
(2)(a) Discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, sex, handicap, or marital status against a student or an employee in the state system of public education is prohibited. No person in this state shall, on the basis of race, national origin, sex, handicap, or marital status, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity, or in any employment conditions or practices, conducted by a public educational institution which receives or benefits from federal or state financial assistance.
(b) The criteria for admission to a program or course shall not have the effect of restricting access by persons of a particular race, national origin, sex, handicap, or marital status.
(c) All public education classes shall be available to all students without regard to race, national origin, sex, handicap, or marital status; however, this is not intended to eliminate the provision of programs designed to meet the needs of students with limited proficiency in English or exceptional education students.
(d) Students may be separated by sex for any portion of a class which deals with human reproduction or during participation in bodily contact sports. For the purpose of this section, bodily contact sports include wrestling, boxing, rugby, ice hockey, football, basketball, and other sports in which the purpose or major activity involves bodily contact.
(e) Guidance services, counseling services, and financial assistance services in the state system of public education shall be available to students equally. Guidance and counseling services, materials, and promotional events shall stress access to academic, career, and vocational opportunities for students without regard to race, national origin, sex, handicap, or marital status.
(3)(a) No person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participating in, be denied the benefits of, or be treated differently from another person or otherwise be discriminated against in any interscholastic, intercollegiate, club, or intramural athletics offered by an educational institution; and no educational institution shall provide athletics separately on such basis.
(b) Notwithstanding the requirements of paragraph (a), an educational institution may operate or sponsor separate teams for members of each sex if the selection for such teams is based upon competitive skill or the activity involved is a bodily contact sport. However, when an educational institution operates or sponsors a team in a particular sport for members of one sex but does not operate or sponsor such a team for members of the other sex, and athletic opportunities for that sex have previously been limited, members of the excluded sex must be allowed to try out for the team offered unless the sport involved is a bodily contact sport.
(c) This subsection does not prohibit the grouping of students in physical education classes and activities by ability as assessed by objective standards of individual performance developed and applied without regard to sex. However, when use of a single standard of measuring skill or progress in a physical education class has an adverse effect on members of one sex, the educational institution shall use appropriate standards which do not have such effect.
(d) An educational institution which operates or sponsors interscholastic, intercollegiate, club, or intramural athletics shall provide equal athletic opportunity for members of both sexes. In determining whether equal opportunities are available, the Commissioner of Education shall consider, among other factors:
1. Whether the selection of sports and levels of competition effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of members of both sexes.
2. The provision of equipment and supplies.
3. Scheduling of games and practice times.
4. Travel and per diem allowances.
5. Opportunities to receive coaching and academic tutoring.
6. Assignment and compensation of coaches and tutors.
7. Provision of locker room, practice, and competitive facilities.
8. Provision of medical and training facilities and services.
9. Provision of housing and dining facilities and services.
Unequal aggregate expenditures for members of each sex or unequal expenditures for male and female teams if an educational institution operates or sponsors separate teams do not constitute nonimplementation of this subsection, but the Commissioner of Education shall consider the failure to provide necessary funds for teams for one sex in assessing equality of opportunity for members of each sex.
(e) An educational institution may provide separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex, but such facilities shall be comparable to such facilities provided for students of the other sex.
(4) Educational institutions within the state system of public education shall develop and implement methods and strategies to increase the participation of students of a particular race, national origin, sex, handicap, or marital status in programs and courses in which students of that particular race, national origin, sex, handicap, or marital status have been traditionally underrepresented, including, but not limited to, mathematics, science, computer technology, electronics, communications technology, engineering, and 1career education.
(5) The State Board of Education shall adopt rules to implement this section.
(6) The functions of the Office of Equal Educational Opportunity of the Department of Education shall include, but not be limited to:
(a) Requiring all boards to develop and submit plans for the implementation of this section to the Department of Education.
(b) Conducting periodic reviews of educational agencies to determine compliance with this section and, after a finding that an educational agency is not in compliance with this section, notifying the agency of the steps that it must take to attain compliance.
(c) Providing technical assistance, including assisting educational agencies in identifying unlawful discrimination and instructing them in remedies for correction and prevention of such discrimination.
(d) Conducting studies of the effectiveness of methods and strategies designed to increase the participation of students in programs and courses in which students of a particular race, national origin, sex, handicap, or marital status have been traditionally underrepresented and monitoring the success of students in such programs of courses.
(e) Requiring all boards to submit data and information necessary to determine compliance with this section. The Commissioner of Education shall prescribe the format and the date for submission of such data and any other educational equity data. If any district does not submit the required compliance data or other required educational equity data by the prescribed date, the commissioner shall notify the district school board of this fact and, if the appropriate action is not taken to immediately submit the required report, the school board shall be directed to proceed pursuant to the provisions of s. 230.23(11)(b). If any community college or university does not submit required data and information by the prescribed date, the same policy as prescribed for school districts shall be implemented.
(f) Based upon rules of the State Board of Education, developing and implementing enforcement mechanisms with appropriate penalties to ensure that public schools and community colleges comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and subsection (3) of this section. However, the Department of Education may not force an educational agency to conduct, nor penalize an educational agency for not conducting, a program of athletic activity or athletic scholarship for female athletes unless it is an athletic activity approved for women by a recognized association whose purpose is to promote athletics and a conference or league exists to promote interscholastic or intercollegiate competition for women in that athletic activity.
(g) Beginning July 1, 1994, reporting to the Commissioner of Education any public community college or school district found to be out of compliance with rules of the State Board of Education adopted as required by paragraph (f) or paragraph (3)(d). To penalize the community college or school district, the commissioner shall:
1. Declare the educational agency ineligible for competitive state grants.
2. Notwithstanding the provisions of s. 216.192, direct the Comptroller to withhold general revenue funds sufficient to obtain compliance from the educational agency.
The educational agency shall remain ineligible and the funds shall not be paid until the agency comes into compliance or the commissioner approves a plan for compliance.
(7) The Board of Regents shall comply with all of the requirements and duties as provided in subsection (6), except that the Commissioner of Education may delegate to the Chancellor of the State University System any duties required of the commissioner with regard to this section.
(8) A person aggrieved by a violation of this section or a violation of a rule adopted under this section has a right of action for such equitable relief as the court may determine. The court may also award reasonable attorney's fees and court costs to a prevailing party.
History.--s. 2, ch. 84-305; s. 56, ch. 91-45; s. 2, ch. 93-202; s. 7, ch. 2001-89.
1Note.--The term "career education" was substituted for the term "vocational education" by the editors pursuant to the directive of the Legislature in s. 16, ch. 94-232.