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Colleges must offer women students athletic opportunities that are equivalent to those they offer men and in proportion to their presence in the student body, according to the first federal appellate-court ruling to apply Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to intercollegiate athletics.

The ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston this month also would likely apply to the nation's high schools, experts say.

"It leaves in jeopardy an awful lot of high schools around the country,'' said Ellen J. Vargyas, a lawyer for the National Women's Law Center, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case argued by the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.

The case began when Brown University ended its women's varsity gymnastics and volleyball programs in May 1991.

Because it also cut men's golf and water polo, the university argued that it had not discriminated against women.

"Brown earnestly professes that it has done no more than slash women's and men's athletics by approximately the same degree,'' Judge Bruce M. Selya wrote for the unanimous panel. "But Brown's claim overlooks the shortcomings that plagued its program [for women] before it took blade in hand.''

Women make up 52 percent of the undergraduates at Brown, but only 36.6 percent of the school's intercollegiate athletes, according to court papers.


A guide issued this month by U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala offers communities tips on how to improve and coordinate their education, health, and social-service programs.

The report criticizes the "fragmented, confusing, and inefficient'' way children and families now receive aid, and offers a five-stage framework to help restructure and coordinate different kinds of services.

It also describes the issues faced and lessons learned by four collaborative initiatives linking community- and school-based programs and services; provides checklists to help communities launch such efforts; and includes a listing of other resources.

The report promotes a "holistic approach in treating the problems of children and families'' with a preventive focus and flexibility in the use of federal and state funds.

It was written under contract to the two federal departments by Atelia I. Melaville of the Center for the Study of Social Policy and Martin J. Blank of the Institute for Educational Leadership, with recommendations from a 25-member study group.

Copies of the report, "Together We Can: A Guide for Crafting a Profamily System of Education and Human Services,'' stock number 065-000-00563-8, are available for $11 each from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15250-7954.

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