Florida School District Squashes Effort to Start High School Baseball Team

Back in the middle of the month, we pointed our readers to an article in Florida Today about how an effort by a group of parents to start a varsity baseball team at one high schoolwas being resisted in part on Title IX grounds.

One by one, board members explained their reluctant decision to follow a recommendation by Superintendent Brian Binggeli to veto the idea.

The recurring theme: Saying yes could leave Brevard open to potential lawsuits and financial liabilities when the district is already struggling with past and future budget cuts.

“I have been stewing on this issue for weeks, if not months,” said board vice chairwoman Barbara Murray, whose district includes the Merritt Island school. “And it’s very difficult for me to take this stance but the big picture is the future finances of this district.”

Citing legal research from his staff, Binggeli said the move could have created an unfair divide between wealthy schools willing to pay for a desired program and less affluent schools where parents can’t afford to do the same.

He also raised concerns about potentially violating federal Title IX laws against gender discrimination by creating an imbalance that would require the district to fund a girls’ softball team if female students showed interest.

The district in recent years lost a class-action Title IX lawsuit that found several high schools were not providing equitable girls’ softball facilities.

But there’s a little more to the story …

Baseball club coach Joe Murray and other supporters said they still disagree with the district’s analysis of Edgewood’s Title IX status, and say the current student athlete population favors girls.

“They should not go next year and ask us for help with money when they refuse to let us fund programs we’ve already said we would fund and want, and have in fact demonstrated a need for,” said Murray, the coach.

Amazing. We’re talking about a group of parents who want to self-fund an entire program, only to be rebuffed by the school district. When you think about it, it makes you wonder who is really in charge — the taxpayers or school administrators?

In any case, this story isn’t as uncommon as you might think — not in the world where the mere possibility of the formation of a football booster club triggers a Title IX investigation from the Office of Civil Rights.

Posted by Eric McErlain at 2:09 PM

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