Portland — On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Division (DOE) notified Elite Oregon Girls (EOG) of its intent to open a federal Title IX investigation into the Reynolds School District regarding inequalities between the baseball and softball programs. EOG filed the federal complaint in July after running a story detailing the inequalities. This marks the third federal Title IX investigation that EOG has successfully spearheaded to open. Per federal protocol, both EOG as the complainant and the District as recipient were notified electronically of the decision.
In a Title IX complaint to the DOE, Elite Oregon Girls detailed inequalities present in the baseball and softball facilities at Reynolds. The softball program is provided no seating for spectators, bare bone dugouts consisting of a metal roof, chain fence, and a park bench, a basic scoreboard, and what can be best described as a basic softball field. Further, it appears that porta potties were placed directly behind home plate out of spite. Over at Reynolds Middle School, baseball lives in luxury with a hitting facility, three large seating areas, a massive storage container, press box, concessions, on-field hitting cage, large bullpens, enclosed dugouts, and clear and large labeling that indicates that it belongs to Reynolds Baseball. These differences alone were more than enough reason to take federal action on the issues.
With the opening of an investigation, there are several ways it can end: The District can sign a voluntary resolution with the DOE to fix the issues to the fullest extent possible, there is insufficient evidence to prove that the District is in violation, or a conclusion that the District is in violation. Once one of these is determined, a letter of findings will be released to both the District and EOG, alongside with the actions being taken based upon those said findings. Investigations can take undetermined amounts of time, with compliance taking even longer for districts such as the case with PPS and Grant Softball, as PPS signed a voluntary resolution agreement with the feds back in 2020 over similar issues with Grant Softball. There’s also a small chance that other Title IX issues might be uncovered, which would be addressed by the feds as part of their investigation since they assess the entire scope of the athletic department, not just the softball and baseball programs.
The DOE reminds that they are neutral in all complaints, applying their investigations in accordance with federal laws and precedent, which is what each one is ultimately determined upon. The opening of an investigation is another step forward towards obtaining equality for the athletes at Reynolds, hopefully with a resolution or finding that pushes forward positive changes for the future of that school. While nothing is certainly guaranteed from it, it is an encouraging sign and a push of momentum towards the ultimate goal of obtaining Title IX compliance and equality for female athletes throughout Oregon.