Sunday, April 27, 2008

Coach Jackson Fights On

After the Supreme Court confirmed in 2005 that Title IX prohibits retaliation against a coach who advocates for gender equity on behalf of his team, the defendant in that case, the Birmingham Board of Education, eventually settled with the plaintiff, former girls basketball coach Roderick Jackson. However, according to Coach Jackson, the Board has not been living up to its obligations under the settlement agreement. The Birmingham News reports that Jackson filed a motion in federal district court last week asking the judge to find the Board in contempt.

Jackson argues that, contrary to the Board's promise in the settlement agreement, female athletes at Jackson-Olin High School (and likely, other schools in the district) are still receiving inferior athletic opportunities, as measured by things like transportation, uniforms, and access to facilities.

The settlement agreement also obligated the Board to produce a Title IX compliance report. But Jackson maintains that the report is incomplete for failing to compare the financial resources provided to girls and boys sports. (The district's excuse, that it doesn't keep track of donations by "outside sources," sounds suspiciously like the "booster club made me do it" excuse we've heard many times before.) The report was also flawed, says Jackson, for only comparing the numbers of sports offered to boys and girls -- a meaningless statistic in terms of Title IX compliance -- rather than the number of athletic opportunities offered to each sex. Moreover, since Jackson-Olin High School does not satisfy that aspect of Title IX by statistical proportionality (55% of the student population is female, but receive only 36% of athletic opportunities) the report should have explained whether the district is in alternatively in compliance under one of the other two prongs.

Last, the article reports that while the settlement agreement required the Board to reinstate Jackson as head coach, Jackson is currently not serving in that position. Jackson claims this is a result of ongoing discrimination against female athletes and retaliation against him. Jackson reportedly resigned around the time of the settlement, out of concerns that his litigation was a distraction to his team. He rescinded his resignation 8 days later, and even though the Board hadn't acted on it, it refused to rehire Jackson back for the remainder of the season. Nor was he rehired for the position when it was posted for the following school year. Instead, the Board hired a football coach who some players and parents say was "treated them disrespectfully, had little basketball knowledge, and made football his priority."