Settlement reached in Lake Oswego schools Title IX lawsuit - KPTV - FOX 12

Settlement reached in Lake Oswego schools Title IX lawsuit

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LAKE OSWEGO, OR (KPTV) -

After a year-long battle that garnered national attention, the Lake Oswego School District has reached a settlement in a Title IX lawsuit brought against the district by current and former students.

The young women, along with their parents sued the school district, saying their facilities weren't equal to the boys baseball facilities.

As part of the settlement, the school district promised to take action immediately to bring not just girls softball but also other girls sports up to par with boys sports.

In the lawsuit filed in April of 2016, the parents and players accused the district of denying equal athletic treatment and benefits including practice, training, and competitive facilities, equipment and supplies for female students, with some parents claiming the discrimination had been occurring for years.

In February of this year, the school district made changes to the baseball field at Lake Oswego High School in an attempt to make the field usable for softball. Instead, neither the baseball nor softball teams liked the change, with some even noting that the changes could create safety hazards.

In a statement released Tuesday, Superintendent Heather Beck noted that the district was “committed to providing equal opportunity for all students” and declared that a community-wide task force was being created to provide input on gender equality.

That task force will include at least one of the girls on the softball team who sued the district.

As part of the settlement, the district will be moving girls water polo and lacrosse from being club sports to interscholastic sports beginning in the 2017-2018 school year and implementing a “no cut” policy for girls volleyball and soccer, among other changes.

The district is also pledging to provide new teams, levels and funding for girls programs comparable to that for other existing interscholastic programs and teams.

There will also be a new turf field built in time for the 2017-2018 school year to primarily be used for the high school softball program, as well as other community softball programs. By the 2018-2019 season, the facility will have a hitting facility, bullpens, dugouts, locker rooms and bleachers.

The district will also retain an “equity consultant” who will oversee the implementation of the new plan over the next three years and promised that there would be no retaliation against anyone involved in the lawsuit, among other things.

Current and former members of the softball team told FOX 12 they were relieved to see that the settlement was aimed at bringing equity to male and female sports in the district.

“It has been a long process but we are really happy with where we are at right now,” current player Kelsey Deos said. “I was really optimistic throughout this entire thing and it was a long journey and we are finally here and we are really excited.”

“It is so exciting that we finally reached this day,” former player Lauren Working added. “We are going to bring the girls participation up to the boy’s participation and make sure that female athletes at the school are being supported and encouraged throughout their process.”

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