PPS Faces Title IX Lawsuit Alleging Pay Discrimination And Retaliation In Cleveland Athletics

Portland — Another day, another Title IX lawsuit being filed against Oregon’s largest school district. On Monday, Cleveland volleyball head coach Sydney Hammond filed a federal lawsuit in district court alleging that Portland Public Schools (PPS) has violated federal Title IX laws by, “discriminating against Hammond on the basis of her sex by denying her equal pay and coaching opportunities and has retaliated against Hammond for speaking up about such discrimination.” This is the latest legal woe for PPS on the Title IX front, as the softball program at Grant High School filed a federal Title IX lawsuit against PPS back in 2020 related to facilities provided. Further, Elite Oregon Girls (EOG) has also been battling PPS for access to financial records pertaining to the Cleveland athletic department since May, as EOG has been engaging in a Title IX investigation into athletic facilities at Cleveland.

The lawsuit, which can be read here, alleges that the issues began after Hammond became the head coach of the volleyball program in 2021. The lawsuit states, “Within a matter of weeks, Hammond realized that women’s volleyball was being allotted fewer coaches and less money than the football team at Cleveland High School, despite having more students in the volleyball program in 2021 and 2022, a comparable length of season, and having more competition dates.” That same season, Hammond was unable to find a JV coach and inherited the duties of running both programs but wasn’t paid for her added duties as JV coach. When she inquired about this, Hammond was allegedly told, “Hammond would not be paid but she had to take the role anyway since no one else could be found.”

Even after involving the teacher’s union, PPS allegedly denied her pay for doing the JV duties, despite being told that, “she had to take the role anyway since no else could be found.” The complaint further alleges that PPS demanded that Hammond delete an Instagram post from the team page that discussed Title IX issues within PPS and also, “included resources for students to speak up about the inequitable treatment of female sports that they had experienced.” In a meeting with PPS Athletic Director Marshall Haskins, Mr. Haskins was allegedly unprofessional despite the presence of HR and a union representative, allegedly making “sexist
and patronizing comments to Hammond”, and allegedly stating, “hundreds of
coaches and you’re the only one being snippy about not getting paid and bringing up crap about male coaches getting paid more.”

Back in August, Hammond was informed by Cleveland Athletic Director Kellie Sauer that PPS wouldn’t be paying for her program to use the video software Hudl, but had paid for the football team to have it. After confronting PPS at a meeting, the next day her program was provided with Hudl, however allegedly other female programs have not been able to have it provided for them. The lawsuit also details how the football coaching staff is getting 1% pay raises every season, while Hammond is only given a 0.5% raise. In addition, the football coaches are paid at the varsity level pay scale, yet the team hasn’t been a varsity program since at least 2019. It is also alleged that the head football coach at Ida B. Wells was paid to perform multiple positions the last two seasons, yet PPS allegedly denied Hammond the same treatment. PPS also allegedly paid for “team bonding activities” for the football programs, while the volleyball program was required to pay for their own.

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