Judge Ezra rules 'disparity' in Baldwin school's athletic fields violates law
By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer
Federal Judge David Ezra said this afternoon there is an “obvious disparity” in boys’ and girls’ athletic facilities at Baldwin High School on Maui that violates federal law.
He ordered state and county officials to repair a softball field where the Baldwin girls varsity and junior varsity softball used to play before it was closed for repairs and the teams were moved to a more distant county facility.
Ezra said he wants an outside expert to study both the old and new fields to determine how quickly the repairs can be made and whether the new field is safe for continued use.
County and state officials told the judge they believe the new field is superior to the old one and that there are no safety concerns for teams that play there.
But Ezra said the overall difference in facilities afforded the Baldwin boys’ baseball team and the girls softball team is so striking that a federal lawsuit was long overdue.
“The facts are indisputable,” the judge said.
“The boys play in a near-semiprofessional baseball stadium,” Ezra said.
The girls have been “relegated to a park facility that is substantially substandard in every respect compared to the facility afforded the boys,” Ezra ruled.
The decision came in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Baldwin girls softball coach Joe Duran and a group of his players.
State Department of Education officials said they are planning to build a new Baldwin girls softball facility that will be ready for use in 2012.