TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Union Public Schools in Tulsa became the 14th district to be sued for allegedly violating the federal law that requires equity in boys' and girls' sports in public schools and universities.
Attorneys for the parents of three softball players announced Wednesday that the Title IX lawsuit had been filed in U.S. District Court in Tulsa on Wednesday. The lawsuit accuses Union public schools of failing to give the girls' softball program the treatment and benefits afforded to boys' sports.
Plaintiffs' attorney Sam Schiller said the primary issue is the ``plainly obvious'' difference between the playing and practice facilities the district provides for the two sports.
The goal of the lawsuit is to improve what is offered to the girls and not to subtract from what the baseball players already enjoy, co-counsel Ray Yasser said.
Yasser said upgrades to fan seating and dugouts are among the improvements needed at the softball field. And an existing indoor practice facility is improperly geared toward baseball players, he added.
Other issues include the equipment, supplies and uniforms provided to softball, compared to boys' sports, Schiller said. The number of coaching jobs and the salaries allotted those positions also could become issues, the attorneys said.
Karen Long, who represents the school, said that, to her knowledge, the district is in full compliance with Title IX and is ``surprised'' by the allegations.
Long said she has been told that Union recently improved its softball facilities and said the plaintiffs apparently opted to file a federal lawsuit instead of taking advantage of grievance procedures.
Fourteen Oklahoma school districts have been sued in a Title IX action since 1996. The other 13 cases have been settled.
This is the first to be limited to one sport.