School illegally retaliated against girls for complaining by firing their coach, creating a chilling effect on reporting sex discrimination.
School illegally retaliated against girls for complaining by firing their coach, creating a chilling effect on reporting sex discrimination The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) today filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit supporting the district court’s recent ruling that Castle Park High School in Chula Vista, California violated Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. The district court held that the school systematically failed to provide equal participation opportunities for girls and equal treatment of girls’ teams and retaliated against the female athletes whose parents and coach complained by firing the coach, which negatively affected the entire class of girls. The Center’s brief, filed with co-counsel WilmerHale, supports the district court’s finding that the school failed to satisfy any prong of Title IX’s three-part participation test. The school had a 6.7 percentage point disparity between female enrollment and sports participation, failed to expand opportunities for girls, and even had recently cut a girls’ team. In addition, the school provided girls’ teams with inferior scheduling, equipment, coaching, and practice and competitive facilities. This discrimination in turn undermined the recruitment of girls and their ability to compete. For example, the girls’ softball field—full of divots, grooves and uneven dirt—compromised practice sessions and games and impeded player development. In contrast, the boys’ baseball field was well maintained and included state-of-the-art dugouts. “This case is a reminder that many high school girls are still being treated like second-class citizens, more than forty years after Title IX’s passage” said NWLC Senior Counsel Neena Chaudhry. “Despite progress, the number of opportunities for girls to play sports today is below the number of spots open to boys in 1972. Schools are providing about 1.3 million fewer chances for girls to play high school sports and must be held accountable. Girls at Castle Park High School and across the country are missing the chance to reap the long-term benefits of playing sports.” After a parent and softball coach complained about the girls’ inferior treatment, Castle Park High School again violated Title IX by retaliating against the girls. The school fired the softball coach, replaced him with a far less experienced person who did not conduct a winter ball program and did not provide the girls’ team with necessary equipment and other routine benefits. The loss of their trusted coach and the school’s further discrimination disrupted the girls’ softball program and created a chilling effect on students’ and employees’ willingness to report violations. To review the amicus brief, please visit: http://www.nwlc.org/resource/national-womens-law-center-files-brief-ollier-v-sweetwater