AD gives in to Title IX complaint, yet school district may still be sued by irate parent

Cameron Smith
August 1, 2012

A fight which began when an Oregon high school athletic director refused to let his school's softball team play at the same facility as all male teams has led to a game of high stakes brinksmanship between an empowered parent and the school's AD. In what appears to have been a game of political chicken, the AD actually gave way, yet still may find himself in court for his school's practices thanks to the parent who has served as a thorn in his side.

Seaside parent Randy Anderson and his daughter Whitney — The Oregonian
Seaside parent Randy Anderson and his daughter Whitney — The Oregonian

As reported by the Portland Oregonian, Seaside (Ore.) High parent Randy Anderson, whose daughter Whitney plays on the school's junior varsity softball team, has issued notice to the school district that he plans to sue the school in federal court for its failure to allow the softball team to play at the city's rather impressive sports complex. While a number of teams played all of their spring action at the city's large, modern Broadway Field, the softball team never got to host a game there, instead finding itself relegated to the "often-soggy Wahanna Field," as the Oregonian's Bryan Denson put it.

Anderson had complained nehemently about the inequity of the teams' facilities, but never received any indication of a breakthrough until a news release in late July trumpeted the addition of lights at the complex, which it said would allow, "for Broadway Field to be the home site for all varsity softball, baseball, soccer, and football during the 2012-2013 school year."

It was likely no coincidence that the aforementioned release came almost precisely two weeks after the elder Anderson filed a federal tort claims notice, which alerted the Seaside school district of his intention to file suit on Title IX grounds.

Yet, if the addition of the Seaside softball team to the Broadway Field schedule was supposed to allay any future lawsuits, it apparently failed to sate Anderson's drive for gender equity. The father said that he still plans to move forward with the lawsuit, telling the Oregonian that the field improvement only addresses one part of the district's non-compliance with Title IX statutes.

In his tort claims notice, Anderson cited better participation opportunities, coaching, equipment, transportation and facilities for boys sports at the school than for their female counterparts. Even if the field addresses the most glaring aspect of the facilities inequity, Anderson would seemingly still have claims on four other issues in which boys have an advantage.

All of that means that it's likely the Portland area will see a Title IX lawsuit in the not too distant future. It may not become clear before then whether it really was the soggy field which drove Anderson to file his claim, and potentially dramatically alter Seaside athletics from there out.

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