Monday, February 23, 2009

The financial deterrent effect

The initial threat levied against schools not in compliance with Title IX was revocation of federal funding.
It's a threat that has never been realized--never. As in never, ever.
But financial repercussions are certainly being felt by colleges and universities as we have noted in cases such Fresno State, University of Colorado, and Florida Gulf Coast University in which institutions pay out settlements or jury awards.
But high schools are also feeling the economic hit and in a time of budget cuts and tightening, being forced to pay attorney fees in addition to the costs of remedying the existing discrimination.
This is the situation that Ramona school district has found itself in. Parents sued the district in 2007 arguing that the softball team was not receiving equitable treatment under Title IX. The district has built a new field with amenities comparable to the baseball team--under the order of a federal judge. But the bigger cost--larger than the $200,00 on said field--is the court order to pay the legal fees the parents incurred, around $350,000. Ramona, like the rest of the state of California, is having some budget issues. They are being forced into discussions with the plaintiffs' attorneys about a payment plan. Perhaps the incursion of fees was part of the decision not to appeal the decision. Ramona may have taken a lesson from Michigan High School Athletic Association which was, as you may remember, ordered to pay the attorney fees from its lengthy battle against a parents group seeking equity in high school athletics.