Two similar cases involving Title IX were recently settled in Alabama and Maryland. The Birmingham Board of Education settled a case involving girls basketball coach Roderick Jackson, who was fired as coach in 2001 after he complained the girls basketball team was not receiving the same treatment as the boys team. Jackson’s case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, where the Court ruled that Jackson could sue for retaliation under Title IX even though it was the girls in his team that received the direct discriminatory treatment.
Even after the Supreme Court victory, Birmingham was slow to settle this case. The recent final settlement compensated Coach Jackson, made him a head coach of a high school girls varsity basketball team, and has helped secure a level playing field for female athletes by fully implementing required Title IX policies. This included appointing a Title IX coordinator for the Birmingham school system and each school in the system, adopting Title IX grievance policies, promising no retaliation against Coach Jackson or others, conducting reviews of compliance with Title IX athletics regulations in the Birmingham’s school system, and sharing the findings with the public.
‘Coach Jackson has secured justice for himself, for the nation, and for the students of Birmingham,’ said Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). ‘Roderick Jackson stood up for his girls, and in the process helped set an important precedent that ensures that people cannot be punished for standing up to fight discrimination.’
In addition to its work on the Roderick Jackson case, the NWLC settled a similar case in late August 2006 with the Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) in Maryland after they found the girl’s softball fields inferior to the boy’s baseball diamonds. PGCPS agreed to a number of changes (PDF), including updating all softball fields by 2007, allocating proportionate athletic funds to girls’ and boys’ teams including making sure that donors do not create a disparity, ensuring prime practice and playing time, hiring a full time Title IX Coordinator, and reporting on progress in all aspects of this agreement.
‘Knowledge of their rights, vigilance, persistence and good legal teams are needed to win these important cases,’ said Sue Klein, FMF Education Equity Director, ‘but educators also need to help by ensuring that their Title IX coordinators and others establish and enforce policies that will advance gender equity in athletics and all other areas of education.’
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