Saturday, March 03, 2012

Softball field issues in Butte

In an attempt to remedy an "inadequate" softball field used the by high school girls' softball team in Butte, Montana, two of the team's former assistant coaches. This story caught my attention because it was confusing and curious in multiple ways.
First, why are the two men filing the complaint former coaches. It is clear that they have raised this issue with the school district and are trying to work cooperatively toward a remedy. So it does not sound as if they were forced out of their positions.
Second, and this harkens back to my post about media coverage of Title IX, the article states that they filed a complaint with OCR but the remainder of the initial clearly bastardized taken from the AP version of the article that I saw refers to the complaint as a lawsuit. I am pretty sure, based on the information provided, that this is a complaint. One, OCR isn't involved in lawsuits (in this way) and two, I am not sure the two former coaches have standing in such a lawsuit.
Also, there is mention of some kind of statute of limitations that the men felt forced them to notify OCR in a timely manner (60 days) even as they continue to work for a solution to the problem. The coaches had filed a grievance noting that the fields, which are not owned by the school district (the coaches would like a district-owned field), lack proper bathroom facilities, are not well-maintained, have no scoreboard or storage along with other amenities. And, according to the article, OCR is expected to get back to them within 10 days.
The last interesting moment: apparently there was 1982 case regarding opportunities for girls in Butte. In the initial grievance, the complainants asked the Montana High School Association to evaluate the condition of the fields using the conditions of that settlement as a guideline. [But a 1982 lawsuit about opportunities for high school girls--that's intriguing.]
MHSA said the fields were indeed inadequate. The school district has been working on plans for new and improved fields. They have consulted architects and have plans both for improving the current fields as well as creating fields at the high school. So it remains unclear why the need for an OCR complaint at this point. The coaches and other supporters of softball do feel they have been left out of the plans for improvements. An OCR investigation (if it happens), of course, will look at more than just the softball fields. 
When more information/clarifications emerge, we'll be sure to post them.