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Schools Told Basketball Should Bounce Equally for Boys and Girls

March 23, 1989|ESTHER SCHRADER | Times Staff Writer

The U.S. Department of Education has notified Glendale school officials that their past practice of scheduling girls' basketball games at less desirable times than boys' games violates federal civil rights laws.

The department will take no action against the district, however, since school officials have already guaranteed changes in the schedule, which the department said would be adequate to correct the problem.

The ruling represents a negotiated settlement between the Department of Education and Glendale Unified School District. The district agreed last month to guarantee that girls' varsity basketball games would not be played at less desirable times than boys' games. Traditionally, girls have played afternoons and weeknights, and boys have played Friday and Saturday nights.

Last fall, parents of several girls on the Hoover High School basketball team filed a complaint with the Department of Education contending that the district's schedule violated players' rights to fair treatment under the law. Their complaint followed several others made to Glendale school officials.

For more than five months, district officials had contended that they were not responsible for the equitability of scheduling since the games are scheduled by an interscholastic basketball league, not by the district.

However, the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights ruled that since the league is made up of representatives from member schools and since those schools receive federal funds, the school district is responsible for ensuring against discrimination in sports scheduling.

In January, district Supt. Robert Sanchis guaranteed that changes would be made in the schedule to make it fair. Those changes include scheduling girls' games right before or after boys' games in the same location, scheduling girls' and boys' games on the same day or night but at different sites, and alternating Friday and Wednesday night games between girls' and boys' teams.

In addition, the district will guarantee that bands, pep squads and drill teams perform at both girls' and boys' games, Sanchis said in a letter to the Department of Education.

Parents of girls on the basketball teams and attorney Gloria Allred, who has spoken to Glendale school officials on the parents' behalf, were cautious in praising the department's ruling. Allred and the parents have asked that girls' games be played on the same night and in the same location as boys' games. But the department ruling said a number of district remedies--of which such scheduling is only one--would be equitable.

"We don't have any information about what the schedule is going to be next season, so we don't know whether it's going to be equitable or not," Allred said. "We are going to adopt a wait-and-see attitude."

Allred and the parents have said games played in the afternoon do not generate the excitement or interest of night games and make it more difficult for parents and friends to attend.

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