Salem — Elite Oregon Girls has learned that the Salem-Keizer School District has reached a resolution with the U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Division over alleged Title IX violations related to softball and baseball facility differences. The school in question is Sprague High School, who have both of their facilities located next to each other on campus. This resolution is the latest in a string of cases brought against Oregon school districts related to Title IX. It isn’t clear who initiated the complaint and triggered the federal investigation into Salem-Keizer.
According to the complaint, it alleges that Salem-Keizer “discriminates against female students at the school (Sprague) by failing to provide equal athletic opportunities to members of both sexes relating to the provision of locker rooms, practice, and competitive facilities; equipment and supplies; and the opportunity to receive coaching.” In their letter to the district, the U.S. Department of Education said that an investigation indicated that “the District may not be providing locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities to the girls’ softball teams that are comparable to those offered to the boys’ baseball teams at the school.” The DoE went on to say that based on the evidence presented to them, it reflects that baseball has superior playing fields, dugouts, bullpens, fencing, landscaping, bleachers, batting cages, and storage compared to what is provided to softball.
The complaint also went into detail about uniforms, team rooms, and even coaching. According to documents obtained by the DoE, the District replaced baseball uniforms in the 2021-22 season while softball had theirs replaced in 2020. However, it is alleged that the softball program only has uniform tops replaced instead of both the tops and pants. As for coaching, the DoE states, “Information provided to OCR suggested that the girls’ softball head coach is not provided with a prep period at the end of the school day, requiring the coach to prepare the fields during practice or before games and making the coach unavailable to coach the girls at those times, whereas the boy’s baseball coach is provided with a prep period at the end of the school day, resulting in the coach being available to coach the boys at those times.”
In a response to the complaint, Salem-Keizer acknowledged the softball program and facility needed maintenance and upgrades. The District also said that there are plans to create a team room for softball. In their resolution agreement, Salem-Keizer agrees to a thorough assessment of every sports program at Sprague, assessing facilities, equipment, and coaching opportunities. Salem-Keizer has 120 days to conduct the assessment and submit it to the DoE for review. In a statement, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon stated, “As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX this year and the progress that continues nationally to ensure all students have equal opportunities to participate in athletic activities, Salem-Keizer School District No. 24J commits to important steps today to support girls’ athletics on an equal basis with boys.”