The U.S. Department of Justice determined that a Michigan high school broke federal civil rights law by allowing its boys’ baseball team to fix up its athletic field, making it nicer than the field belonging to the girls’ softball team–even though the improvements were paid for privately.
To avoid a fine, Plymouth Canton Community Schools had no choice but to take down the new bleachers and scoreboard, which had been paid for through a private fundraising drive.
According to DOJ OCR, it was illegal to provide unequal resources for boys and girls. The bleachers also ran afoul of disability law, since they were not handicap accessible.
Six years ago, parents complained that the seating at boys’ baseball games was inadequate.
“It’s hard to watch the game through the black chain link face, so we created our seating deck to sit above,” said parent Dan Gilbert in an interview with FOX 2 news.
Gilbert and other parents installed and paid for the new seats themselves. They were put in years ago. The parents also bought a new scoreboard. But now, the bleachers and scoring equipment will be put in storage until the district can afford to make similar improvements to the girls’ field.
Gilbert disagreed with DOJ’s determination.
“I don’t think parents sitting has anything to do with on-field competition,” he said. “I can’t believe we are tearing something down as opposed to building something.”
The school district did not immediately respond to a request for comment.