Lawsuit says fieldhouse unfair to female athletes

Published: Jan. 6, 2011 at 4:37 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 6, 2011 at 11:45 AM EST
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Fieldhouse at North Oldham High School
Fieldhouse at North Oldham High School
Dick Richards
Dick Richards
Anne Coorssen
Anne Coorssen

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

GOSHEN, KY (WAVE) - Two parents have filed a lawsuit against the Oldham County Board of Education, the Oldham County School District Superintendent, and the principal at North Oldham High School claiming they have violated Title IX, which protects gender equality.

Dick Richards is one of the plaintiff's named in the lawsuit and has a daughter who attends North Oldham High School. He said the suit, which was filed in federal court, is against the school's football fieldhouse. It was built during the 2008-2009 school year and that's when, Richards said, the trouble started.

"Why would you not treat the girls the same way you would treat the boys?" Richards questioned.

When the fieldhouse opened its doors, it was home to the North Oldham High School Mustangs football team. The fieldhouse also had a section for visiting teams. But it did not sit well with Richards, who filed a complaint because the facility did not have an area for use by female athletes.

Anne Coorssen, the attorney for the Oldham County Board of Education, says the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and the Office of Civil Rights did not find the fieldhouse in violation. Regardless, Coorssen says they made tweaks to the fieldhouse.

"After Mr. Richards brought his concerns to us, the Board of Education did allocate some money for sort of renovating that side of the locker room for use by the girls track team," Coorssen said.

The space in the fieldhouse designated for visiting football teams, became the home locker room for the girls track and field team. Coorssen said the team is assigned the space from December until the end of the school year. While no other women's team is assigned the space, Coorssen said other women's teams can use it, expect during Friday night football.

On December 23, the issue came up once again for the school system in the form of a lawsuit filed in Federal Court.

"To take one aspect and make that a cause for a Title IX complaint, I think, is narrow-minded," Coorssen said. "They're not looking at the bigger picture of all the wonderful things that are offered here that may not be offered at other schools."

Coorssen showed WAVE 3 the locker rooms for the men's and women's basketball teams that are inside the school building. She said every sport gets assigned a locker room either during its season or for the entire school year. But Richards continues to say his problem isn't with the facilities inside the school, but with the fieldhouse itself.

"If you took eight building blocks, children's building blocks, into a kindergarten class and gave one building block to one child and 7 building blocks to another child, every kid in that classroom would tell you that's not equal," said Richards.

Richards says it is safe to say he would appeal if the decision is not in their favor.

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