A lawsuit claiming that an Indiana school district violates federal laws has been reinstated. The suit charges that a school in Franklin County, Indiana, favors the boys’ basketball team over the girls’ team when it comes to scheduling games. A lower court had dismissed the suit, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit disagreed. If the district loses the case, the decision will likely have an impact on public schools across the state.
Two parents with daughters on the girls’ basketball team, including a former girl’s basketball coach for the district, allege that the school gives precedence to the boys’ team when it comes to scheduling games. Boys’ games are more frequently scheduled on Fridays and Saturdays, while girls’ games often get weekday slots.
The parents believe this practice violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which stipulates that school programs that take federal money cannot discriminate based on sex.
Paul Neidig, the school’s athletic director, did not deny the practice, focusing instead on efforts made in the last ten years to cut down on discrimination against girls’ teams. “Years ago it was not uncommon that girls never played on Fridays and Saturdays,” he said.
Neidig defended the school’s practice of reserving coveted slots on the calendar for the boys’ basketball team’s games. According to Neidig, the school has other concerns besides providing equal opportunity to male and female students. In Indiana, he said, athletic programs rely on ticket sales and fundraisers for some of their funding. In defense of the school’s practice, he pointed out that attendance is lower at weeknight games than at Friday games, a point also made by the plaintiffs.
According to Neidig, each school’s athletic director, along with coaches, determines game schedules. Most of his school’s games are on Tuesdays, Fridays or Saturdays, he said. Away games must, of course, be coordinated with the schedules of other teams. Neidig says that his school has a policy of alternating away games between the boys and girls teams.
“We’re always trying to balance that schedule,” said Neidig. “We don’t want parents and school administrators to have to choose which home game they go to.”
If you are a California school administrator with a question about student/teacher safety, special education, accommodations, student rights, free speech or discipline, or school employment law, feel free to call attorney Richard Oppenheim at 818-461-8500. There is never a charge for an initial consultation and we can help you choose the best direction to resolve any school district issue.