Monday, April 06, 2009

Court Holds CA School District's Athletic Opportunities Violate Title IX

A federal district court in California has ruled in favor of plaintiffs challenging the distribution of athletic opportunities at Castle Park High School in Chula Vista. The court reasoned that the current 6.7 percentage point disparity between the percentage of athletic opportunities afforded to girls (38.7%) and the percentage of girls in the student body (45.4%) does not qualify as substantial proportionality "because the 6.7% difference reflects 47 girls who would have played sports if athletic participation was proportional to female enrollment." The school district also failed to satisfy either of the alternative compliance prongs because the district did not have a history and continuing practice of expanding athletic opportunity for girls, and could not dispute plaintiffs' argument that interest in girls' field hockey, tennis, and water polo remained unmet. With respect to the latter prong, the court dismissed the school district's argument that it was unable find someone willing to coach a field hockey team, since that has no bearing on the question of unmet interest.

The court is currently scheduling further proceedings to address the question of a remedy, as well as the plaintiffs' other claims, not yet addressed by the court, that the school does not provide facilities and other resources of equal quality to girls' and boys' teams and that the district retaliated against the plaintiffs (by firing the softball coach and barring parents from running a concession stand during softball games and serving as assistant coaches) for complaining about Title IX violations.

Decision: Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High School District, 2009 WL 886223 (S.D. Cal. 2009).