Red Bluff >> The announcement was quick and succinct, but in many ways it spoke volumes.
“This has been eight months of litigation,” said Red Bluff Joint Union High School District Superintendent Todd Brose.
On Wednesday night, when Brose and the district board of trustees returned from closed session, it was revealed that an initial settlement had been reached over various violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The lawsuit was filed March 7 by parents of several female student-athletes alleging the girls do not receive equal athletic facilities, benefits and opportunities to boys.
Brose said once the agreement is signed, which he expects will be “probably tomorrow,” opposing counsel, also known as the plaintiff, will receive a copy and at that point have five days to submit to the court.
Brose said he appreciated everyone’s patience.
“A lot of questions have been unanswered because of the nature of litigation,” Brose said. “We’re grateful as a district to have an agreement and are really looking forward to presenting the details of that agreement at the next board meeting.
The board meets again at 5 p.m. Nov. 15 at 1525 Douglass St. The public is free to attend.
“I know tonight seems like it was a little anticlimactic about what we’re able to report, but we really want to protect the process of litigation,” Brose said.
With regard to cost, Brose said the district had used $85,000 of the maximum $100,000 toward its legal defense through September.
Asked whether or not the district will exceed what is allowed under its insurance policy, Brose said he did not know at this point.
“Hopefully not, because whatever we have left will be applied to opposing counsel reasonable legal fees,” he said.
Several of the female student-athletes and parents were present Wednesday and applauded what they said is a step in the right direction toward the future of gender equality with Red Bluff athletics.
“I think this is going to help girls’ sports be brought up to the standard of boys sports,” said Jayne Brandt, a double Masters swim champion this year. “I want to see the girls have the same opportunities, equipment as the boys. This lawsuit will hopefully inspire other schools to improve their girls sports.”
Hazel Brandt, one of the parent plaintiffs, said she is excited to move forward in the process.
“I think it’s exciting for the school, for girls’ sports,” she said. “I welcome increased participation by girls, I hope to see new sports teams added. I think the district is going to be doing some exciting stuff.”
A press release from the plaintiff’s attorneys, Siegel, Yee & Brunner, said girls’ field hockey would be added to increase opportunities for girls to play a sport.
Other improvements under the settlement, according to the release, are improvements to the girls’ softball facilities, locker rooms and storage areas as well as equalizing of fundraising opportunities.
The district has agreed to monitoring for at least three years, to be overseen by the federal court and a mutually-agreed upon Title IX consultant, the release said.
“One thing I learned while working on this case is that almost all high schools are out of compliance with Title IX, not providing girls with equal participation and benefits,” said Jane Brunner, partner with Siegel, Yee & Brunner in the release. “Hopefully other school districts will wake up and provide girls with equal opportunities in sports without a lawsuit being filed.”