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School district clarifies Title IX settlement, calls Empire Justice statement misleading

Press release from Batavia City Schools:

On behalf of the Board, I am pleased to report that a settlement has been agreed to in resolution of the lawsuit filed against the District by two families with respect to the District’s softball fields. While the District is glad that this situation is behind us and we can now fully focus on the completion of these projects, we are a bit dismayed by the characterization of this situation portrayed in the Empire Justice Center’s press release. The Batavia City School District is proud of its student athletic program and continuously works toward achieving equality across all sports.

The District has always been committed to its girls’ athletic program. As a District we cannot proceed with capital projects of this nature without voter approval. We sought voter approval in 2011 to make improvements to our playing fields but the voters did not approve the plan at that time. Despite this outcome in 2011, the District invested as much funding as possible for material and labor to resurface the girls’ softball infields and to make arrangements for games to be played on other appropriate local fields.  

The facts of this situation speak for themselves:

·      The District had committed to the upgrades prior to the commencement of the lawsuit. There are no substantial differences between this settlement and the capital improvement plans that the Board of Education proposed and approved in February 2013 for presentation to the voters in May 2013.

·      The scope of the Board and voter approved capital improvement project was incorporated into preliminary plans by the Young & Wright architectural firm in the Spring of 2013. The plans were finalized this year with the intention of completing the project by September 2015.

·      It is unfortunate that, despite the District’s stated intentions and voter approval, the plaintiffs felt compelled to proceed with this lawsuit. The pending litigation resulted in an unnecessary expenditure of District resources during these difficult economic times.

·      There is only one change to the project requested in the settlement that was not initially taken into account, but the District believes is reasonable, and that is the addition of a safety cap to the track and field fence at VanDetta Stadium that is adjacent to the JV softball field.    

·      Not directly related to the specific project plans under way, as part of the settlement the District was asked to confirm its obligations to equal opportunity in athletic programs pursuant to Title IX, which we have always followed and are happy to continue to do.

·      The District has always been, and will continue to be, committed to its girls’ athletic program.

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