Feminist attorney Gloria Allred charged Tuesday that the Glendale school board is treating girls' basketball teams "like a poor cousin" by scheduling their games on afternoons, while boys' basketball games are played at night.
Allred spoke on behalf of parents of members of the Hoover High School girls' basketball team. The parents sought the high-profile activist's help four months after their original request to the board to change the basketball schedule was unsuccessful.
High school basketball games in Glendale are scheduled by the Pacific League, which is part of the California Interscholastic Federation, and not by the school district. The league is made up of representatives from member schools.
Allred asked the board to pressure league officials to schedule girls' basketball games right before or after boys' games. Allred said that unless the basketball schedule is changed, she will file a lawsuit against the school district.
Allred, who is president of the Women's Equal Rights Legal Defense and Education Fund, is known for zealously pursuing sex discrimination cases. Her presence at the board meeting caused a stir in the packed room.
Flanked by more than 25 girls' basketball team members and their parents, Allred called the scheduling difference a "blatant violation of Title IX" and rejected a district proposal to schedule both girls' and boys' games on the same nights but in different places. Allred called that plan--one of three alternatives outlined by the district--unacceptable.
Title IX, which Congress passed in 1972, is a section of federal law that prohibits discrimination in schools receiving federal money.
District Supt. Robert Sanchis made the district's proposal in a Jan. 30 letter responding to an inquiry from the U.S. Department of Education's office of civil rights. The federal inquiry stemmed from a complaint lodged by several parents of girls on the Hoover High basketball team alleging that the current basketball schedule denies equal opportunity to girls.
Sanchis suggested in the letter that some girls' games be played back-to-back with boys' games and that boys' and girls' teams alternate play on Wednesday and Friday nights. But Allred said Tuesday that the only acceptable option is scheduling the games back-to-back on the same night.
Allred said games played in the afternoon do not generate the excitement or interest of night games. Allred added that afternoon scheduling makes it more difficult for parents and friends to attend girls' games.
School Board President Charles Whitesell said district officials would look into Allred's complaint.