posted on April 10, 2013 18:12
Title IX was initiated in 1972 under President Richard Nixon. It was meant to prevent schools that receive federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex.
Among the requirements is equal treatment between athletic programs for boys and girls. The issue raised in the lawsuit – that the Batavia High School’s boys’ baseball facility, or Dwyer Stadium, is superior to the girls’ softball team’s – is a common one. Erin Buzuvis, a law professor at Western New England University and a Title IX expert, says the fact that the District does not own or operate Dwyer Stadium, does not absolve it from providing equal facilities.
“It’s not a defense to say, ‘everyone else’s softball facilities are just as bad’ and it’s not a defense to say, ‘we’re not in control of the either superior or inferior treatment that we’ve outsourced to someone else.’ The law is clear," she said. "The school can’t outsource its Title IX compliance obligations in that way.”
Buzuvis gives an example, based on her experience with similar cases, of what the defense could argue.
“If the school was able to say, ‘our girls’ soccer team plays at a stadium that’s as special,’ that would be a good defense. (It’s about) equal treatment in the aggregate," she said.
It remains to be seen how the process will unfold, but Buzuvis says it depends on how close the sides actually are. The district says it has prepared a proposition for voter approval this May that would improve the high school’s softball field. The District currently owns three baseball facilities.
Section V softball commissioner Bob Huber declined comment to WBTA. The Empire Justice Center which is based in Rochester and representing the plaintiffs released a statement saying, “the Plaintiffs do not ask to take anything from their male classmates; nor are the girls asking for their own Dwyer Stadium. They simply want equitable facilities to play on, as well as recognition that their athletic endeavors are as worthy as those of their male classmates.”