On April 5, the Batavia City School District received notification that a lawsuit was filed by the Empire Justice Center on behalf of a few District parents with the intent to demand an immediate upgrade to the girls’ softball field claiming the District was in violation of Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972.
The District believes this lawsuit is misguided as the issues addressed in the lawsuit have already been diligently pursued and we have prepared a proposition for voter approval during the annual District’s budget vote in May 2013.
In 2011, softball field upgrades were included in the District’s capital-improvements project proposal which was ultimately voted down by the taxpayers. Even after the capital improvement proposition was voted down, the District allocated as much funding as possible for material and labor to resurface the girls’ softball infield. In addition, arrangements were made to have nearly half of the home games played at an area premier softball facility, Genesee Community College.
The District also continues to make regular maintenance on this field and whatever improvements it can make within the approved budget. To continue its efforts to upgrade the softball field, in 2012, the District commenced an architectural study to address resurfacing the field, installing dugouts, an electronic scoreboard and outfield fencing. This plan was reviewed and approved by the Board of Education at its Feb.12, 2013 meeting.
A proposal to fund this plan, which also includes capital improvements for District buildings and the Richmond Memorial Library, will be placed on the ballot during the annual vote on the District’s budget on May 21. If the voters approve this capital proposition, the District will initiate the upgrades to the field as outlined above after the softball season ends so as not to disrupt the current season.
Subsequent to the Board’s approval of the plan, the District received a letter on February 20, 2013 from the Empire Justice Center demanding that the softball field be upgraded immediately. The District met with representatives of the Empire Justice Center to review the matter.
We explained that the requested upgrades in their letter were the same improvements already incorporated into the District’s proposed project with the exception of night lighting. We shared with these representatives that commencing an upgrade immediately was impractical given that the work would render the field unplayable for most of the season as well as that the work was duplicative of that included within the District’s proposed capital project.
Unfortunately, the District’s good-faith efforts in terms of work already done to the field as well as the presentation of comprehensive facility upgrades to the voters for approval in May 2013 were ignored. However, with just a few more months of patience, it is the District’s belief that it will be able to embark on a comprehensive and complete renovation to the softball facilities.