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Maui Girls’ Softball Players Sue DOE and County to ‘Level the Playing Field’

March 18, 2010, 9:32 PM HST · Updated February 13, 8:17 AM
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Three Baldwin High School (BHS) softball players, their parents, and their coach filed a lawsuit against the Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) and the County of Maui claiming unfair discrimination against girls’ athletics.

File photo of Iron Maehara Baseball Stadium in Wailuku. By Wendy Osher.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii Foundation (ACLU) and Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing (AHFI) filed a lawsuit today in federal district court charging the DOE and County with violating the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act (also known as Title IX) and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Plaintiffs seek an immediate court order calling for equal access to playing fields before the season ends in May 2010.

According to a statement released by the ACLU, The boy’s BHS players practice and compete at the Iron Maehara Stadium, while the girls are “relegated to a rock-strewn dirt field a mile away.” The ACLU press release further claims reports of assaults on women along the path from the school to the field, and inadequate field size.

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“The field that the girls have to play on is unsafe; they are risking injury, losing valuable practice time and playing on a field that doesn’t even have the right distance fence. I will not stand by and watch while the DOE and County crush these girls’ hopes and dreams for their futures,” Coach Joe Duran said in the press release.

ACLU attorney Laurie Temple said, “We are disappointed that Maui, the birthplace of Patsy Mink and many great athletes, is not supporting girls’ athletics and ensuring that they are treated fairly.”

The BHS girls’ softball team won the State Championship in 2007 and the Maui Interscholastic League three years in a row.

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A hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, March 19, 2010 before U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra in Honolulu.

(Posted by Wendy Osher)

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