Submitted by Howard B. Owens on June 2, 2014 - 3:36pm
Press release from the Empire Justice Center:
The Empire Justice Center is pleased to announce that a settlement has been reached in the class-action suit Myers v. Batavia City School District. Three female softball players and their families filed the case in April 2013 seeking equal treatment to their male classmates in the provision of practice and competitive facilities and equipment. Among other things, the players alleged that the District’s policy of renting a professional minor league stadium for all boys’ varsity baseball home games, while providing the girls with substandard playing fields at the school, violated Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972.
“More than anything, I am so proud of these young women for having the courage to stand up for themselves,” said Kristin Small, attorney for Empire Justice Center. “They saw that the way they were being treated was unfair and decided to do something about it, knowing full well they might face backlash from their community and that they themselves might never see the benefit of their efforts.”
As part of the agreement, the District has agreed to build a brand new varsity softball facility with permanent dugouts, good drainage, outfield fencing, a permanent electronic scoreboard and other amenities. The improvements are projected to be completed in time for the 2015 softball season. The District has also committed to making significant improvements to the junior varsity and modified softball fields, and affirmed its commitment to ensuring that boys’ and girls’ sports receive equal benefits, even when that requires the District to compensate for donations made by third parties, such as booster clubs.
After hearing that the District had agreed to the settlement, plaintiffs Elizabeth and Rebecca Myers said, “We are proud and thankful that the Batavia City School District has recognized the importance of female athletics and the need for equal treatment. We look forward to a bright future for Batavia girls’ softball, as players will now be able to enjoy and be proud of the fields that they will be playing on. We would like to thank Empire Justice Center for helping us resolve these disparities.”
“We hope that other school districts will take note of this settlement and be reminded that the movement to achieve equality in athletics between boys and girls is far from over,” noted Jonathan Feldman, a senior attorney at Empire Justice Center. “Many districts face similar challenges leftover from an earlier time when equality in sports was not seen as important. We congratulate the Batavia City School District for stepping up to the plate and working with us to find a solution that will ensure fair and equal treatment of all student athletes, regardless of gender.”