Springfield Is The Latest School To Face A Federal Title IX Investigation

Springfield — In a double dose of news on the Title IX front, the U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Division (DOE) notified Elite Oregon Girls (EOG) on Thursday of its intent to open a federal Title IX investigation into the Springfield 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 a fourth 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 the federal complaint, EOG laid out a case centered around a $3 million investment to provide a renovated, upgraded facility for their baseball program at Springfield. The investment, done in partnership with Bushnell University, brought a laundry list of luxuries to the baseball program: Professional style dugouts, a massive seating area, shiny new bullpens, and just about everything you can ask for with a baseball program: Hitting cage, field tarp, quality maintenance equipment, not to mention the beautiful outfield scenery that is complete with landscaping, personalized scoreboard, and stadium lights. Unlike their baseball counterparts, softball is stuck with wood dugouts that provide the bare basics of gameday storage, and a rusty trio of seating arrangements around the backstop. There are no bullpens, tarp, professionally designed dugouts, no hint of any level of investment or care from a district that helped sink millions into their peer’s baseball program.

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 Springfield, 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.

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