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Lake Oswego Schools Face Possible Lawsuit Over Alleged Title IX Violations

Eric Hood/Fotolia/AP

The Lake Oswego School District is facing a possible class action suit over its sports program.

Ten current and former female athletes at Lake Oswego High School allege violations of federal protections, known as Title IX. The complaint stemmed from girls and young women who had played on the LOHS softball team.

The filing says about 48 percent of students at Lake Oswego High are female, but they make up only 37 percent of the school’s athletes. Kim Turner, with the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, which is handling the case, said that disparity points to a violation.

“Schools think that girls don’t want to play in greater numbers,” Turner said. “But the second that they survey and engage with the girls at the school, who are almost always the underrepresented sex in athletics, girls are saying, ‘Yes, we would like more teams to play on.’”

Turner argued there are fewer opportunities for girls, and that the facilities and playing fields for Lake Oswego girls are inferior.

A call to the district wasn’t immediately returned.

Turner said the disparities at Lake Oswego are similar to problems the San Francisco-based law center has found across California and beyond. Turner said she receives regular calls from parents, coaches and female athletes about Title IX problems in public schools.

For years, public universities have been ground zero for Title IX cases, and several of the girls in the Lake Oswego case drew a connection to higher education by arguing they were hoping to compete for athletic college scholarships.

But Turner pointed to a 2014 court decision involving a high school near San Diego that shows public schools also have to provide equal athletic opportunities for girls and boys. 

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