Baldwin softball girls sue DOE, Maui for discrimination over field use
Three Baldwin High School softball players, their parents, and their coach are suing the state Department of Education and the County of Maui for discriminating against girls’ athletics over equal access to playing fields.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii Foundation and Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing filed a lawsuit today (Thurs.) in federal district court, charging the DOE and Maui county with violating the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The plaintiffs contend that while the Baldwin boys baseball team practices and competes at Iron Maehara Stadium — a 1,500-seat stadium with batting cages, a scoreboard and a manicured field — the girls are relegated to a dirt field a mile away.
“The field that the girls have to play on is unsafe; they are risking injury, losing valuable practice time and playing on a field that doesn’t even have the right distance fence. I will not stand by and watch while the DOE and County crush these girls’ hopes and dreams for their futures,” said coach Joe Duran, who was named Maui Interscholastic League Coach of the Year in 2008.
Plaintiffs seek an immediate court order that will give the Baldwin girls’ softball team, which won the state title in 2007 and the Maui Interscholastic League three years in a row, equal access to its old playing field before their season ends in May 2010.
Plaintiffs also ask that repairs be made to the old field to make it suitable for play. The old field is currently unused.
They also ask for an installation of a home-run fences and the same quality cinder that is used at Iron Maehara Stadium.
Laurie Temple, ACLU attorney said, “We are disappointed that Maui, the birthplace of Patsy Mink and many great athletes, is not supporting girls’ athletics and ensuring that they are treated fairly.”