A Michigan school district was surprised recently when the U.S. Department of Education issued a decision that required them to take down baseball bleachers that were recently improved as the result of fund raising by a booster group. The baseball booster club of the Plymouth/Canton school system had raised funds over a six-year period to change the configuration and improve the bleachers for the baseball field.
A Title IX complaint was filed with the Department of Education alleging that improvements were not also made to the bleachers for the adjacent softball field. Upon investigation, the school district informed the Department of Education that no funds were available to improve the softball bleachers nor was there a current plan to do so. Additionally, the booster club for the softball team had not raised sufficient funds to improve the bleachers.
Upon receiving the school district’s response, the Department of Education ordered the school district to take down the improved bleachers. The school district has removed the bleachers and is “holding on to them” until a plan can be developed that meets the requirements of Title IX. Yet another reminder that it is not enough for school district’s to equitably fund sports programs, but that volunteer fund raising needs to be accounted for as well.