Parents, Union school district reach agreement in Title IX lawsuit

Friday, December 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A group of parents who sued Union Public Schools over gender equity in sports facilities has reached a settlement Thursday with the district.

Attorneys for both sides declined comment on the settlement terms, but plaintiffs' attorney, Ray Yasser, said his side is ``excited'' about the agreement in principal.

Union, located in Tulsa, was the 14th Oklahoma school district to be sued in federal court for alleged violations of Title IX, the 1972 federal law that requires equity in boys' and girls' sports in public schools and universities. The other 13 cases also were settled out of court.

In the Union case, the issue was limited to softball. The original complaint alleged that the district failed to give the girls' softball program the treatment and benefits afforded to boys' sports, particularly baseball.

Plaintiffs' attorney Sam Schiller had said the primary issue was the difference between the playing and practice facilities the district provided for the two sports. Yasser said the goal of the suit was to elevate what is offered to the girls and not to take away anything the baseball players enjoy.

The plaintiffs wanted better fan seating dugouts at the softball field, but they also were concerned with the equipment, supplies and uniforms provided to softball, compared to boys' sports.

U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan presided over the settlement conference in which the deal was reached. The session was not open to the public.

All parties have to sign the settlement, which will be submitted to the court on or before Jan. 10 for formal approval.

Apache, Claremore, Chouteau, Guymon, Holdenville and Hominy were among the school districts sued since 1996 for alleged Title IX violations. The other districts were Inola, Noble, Norman, Owasso, Sperry, Tahlequah and Tulsa.