Girls Basketball Scheduling Lawsuit To Proceed
(Brookville, Ind.) – A former local basketball coach’s lawsuit alleging unfairness in the scheduling of high school girls basketball games is still alive.
In 2009, then Franklin County High School girls basketball coach Amber Parker filed a lawsuit naming Franklin County Community Schools and 13 other districts, including all member schools of the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference.
Parker had filed the suit on behalf of her two daughters and a second plaintiff, Tammy Hurley, was added on behalf of her daughter when Parker moved to Massachusets.
Parker argues in the complaint that girls basketball teams are discriminated against because their games are often scheduled on school nights, Monday through Thursday. Boys games on the other hand were largely played on Friday and Saturday nights – a practice that has continued in the 2011-12 season.
The scheduling disparity, Parker’s litigation argues, is a violation of the federal law known as Title IX.
The suit was dismissed last October by the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Indiana. Judge William T. Lawrence ruled that the damage done was not significant.
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Parker and Hurley appealed. On Tuesday, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to remand the lawsuit.
“Non-primetime games result in a loss of audience, conflict with homework, and foster feelings of inferiority,” Judge John D. Tinder wrote in the ruling. “The question we’re asked to decide in this appeal is whether such discriminatory scheduling practices are actionable under Title IX.”
If the suit is successful, Franklin County Community Schools would be the only district among the plaintiffs to be responsible for paying compensatory monetary damages. The other 13 schools do remain subject to the court’s injunction because their scheduling efforts would be directly tied to addressing Franklin County’s scheduling disparity.
In the ruling, Franklin County High School athletic director Beth Foster testified that she tried to even out the scheduling.
“But athletic directors in the EIAC have refused. Foster was met with resistance from the other school athletic directors in the EIAC when she attempted to address gender equity. She even tried to get double headers on Friday nights, but three of the athletic directors wouldn’t agree,” the ruling said.
The attorney representing the schools, Tom Wheeler, told The Indianapolis Star the schools haven’t decided whether to appeal.
The Title IX lawsuit had originally included the Indiana High School Athletic Association, but the organization was dropped because a judge agreed the IHSAA had no role in scheduling games.
In a separate lawsuit filed last April, Parker sued Franklin County Community Schools, Superintendent Dr. William Glentzer, athletic director Beth Foster, and principal Kimber Lee Simonson for wrongful termination. A settlement reached in October awarded her $28,500.