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Thursday, January 18, 2024
Settlement Hearing Set for Hawaii DoE Title IX Class Action Suit
By News Release @ 4:54 PM :: 1321 Views :: Education K-12, Ethics

Settlement Agreement Reached in Landmark Gender Equity Lawsuit against Hawaiʻi High School

News release from Hawaii ACLU, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, October 31, 2023

The parties in a longstanding federal lawsuit involving gender equity at Hawaiʻi’s largest public school, Campbell High School, have reached a settlement agreement to ensure that girls at the school have the same athletic opportunities, access, treatment, and benefits in high school sports as boys. The Title IX civil rights class action lawsuit was brought against the Hawaiʻi Department of Education and the Oʻahu Interscholastic Association in December 2018. The plaintiffs, a group of brave female athletes at Campbell High School, brought the case on behalf of a class of current and future students after their efforts to resolve the inequities short of litigation failed. The case was filed by ACLU of Hawaiʻi, Legal Aid at Work, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. As part of the state’s single statewide school district, the landmark settlement with Campbell High School sets the stage for improving gender equity for girls across the state. The settlement with the Oʻahu Interscholastic Association will also expand sports opportunities for girls across Hawaiʻi.

The agreement includes significant changes to level the playing field for female student athletes. The complaint alleged numerous specific examples of disparate treatment and benefits ranging from the boys having exclusive access to a stand-alone locker room near the athletics fields, to a softball field that was far inferior to the boy’s baseball facility, as well as a failure to provide coaches and facilities for certain girls’ teams.

Lead Plaintiff Ashley Badis, who won a Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award at the ESPYs earlier this summer for her fight for gender equity and bravery in the case, had this to say: “I’m happy that future students won’t have to go through what my teammates and I did.  We just wanted girls to have the same opportunities to play that boys had, and it’s great to see Campbell moving in the right direction with this settlement.”

Specifically, the settlement provides:

  • That Defendants hire an Independent Evaluator who will immediately take steps to ensure girls at Campbell High School receive substantially equivalent sports offerings (number of opportunities to play sports) and equal athletic benefits (such as athletic facilities, transportation, scheduling, and publicity), among other program components.
  • A 7-year comprehensive compliance plan for monitoring and evaluating gender equity for girls in sports at Campbell High School. This plan requires regular site visits by an independent evaluator, publicly available reports that will ensure transparency around Campbell’s efforts to ensure gender equity, as well as federal court oversight to ensure that any inequities uncovered are fixed.
  • Comprehensive training on the requirement for gender equity in sports under Title IX for Campbell High School staff and key stakeholders, including administrators, coaches, teachers, students, and parents.
  • A hotline and online complaint process so that students, parents, teachers, administrators, and others can report violations.
  • Protections for students to be free from retaliation when they raise concerns about gender equity in Campbell’s sports offerings.

This settlement could not have come at a more important time. Although Title IX, also known as the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, was passed over 50 years ago, much of its promise remains unrealized, especially at the high school level.  Nationwide, girls receive fewer opportunities to play sports than boys. That number is even worse at schools with larger percentages of students of color, like Campbell. These fundamentally unfair and illegal polices under federal law have the practical effect of robbing girls of opportunities to succeed throughout their lives.

Studies show that girls who play sports benefit not only from better mental and physical health outcomes, but also from learning life skills such as teamwork, self-esteem, and leadership. Playing sports leads to enhanced academic and employment outcomes. As a result, ensuring gender equity in sports can have literally life-altering consequences.

Plaintiff Tatiana Troup explained “I filed this case when I was still just a teenage girl at Campbell. I felt that it was unfair how we had to fight harder for the basic benefits that the male athletes received with ease (such as locker rooms for basic privacy). I’m very proud that we as young girls had the bravery to step up and say something for the future female athletes of Campbell.”

Elizabeth Kristen, Director of the Gender Equity and LBGTQ Rights Program at Legal Aid at Work said: “We are excited that the Hawaiʻi Department of Education and the Oʻahu Interscholastic Association have decided to join with its female student athletes to become leaders in sports equity for girls. We sincerely hope and expect that the seven-year settlement plan will benefit not only the girls at Campbell High School, but also all girls across Hawaiʻi who play school sports or want to play.”

Wookie Kim, Legal Director of the ACLU of Hawaiʻi said: “We’re proud to see this settlement in former Congresswoman Patsy Mink’s home state. As the first woman of color elected to Congress, who overcame gender and racial discrimination during her political career and lifetime, she understood first-hand what girls in Hawaiʻi were facing to achieve a level playing field. In a state with a high proportion of students of color and an extremely high cost of living, the opportunities afforded to female athletes are all the more important and impactful.  This settlement honors Congresswoman Mink’s legacy and carries forward her tireless work for education reform and gender equity for generations of girls in Hawaiʻi to come.”

Jayma Meyer, Counsel at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP said: “We are thrilled the Hawaiʻi Department of Education and the Oʻahu Interscholastic Association have agreed to systematic change so that girls will have the same access and opportunity as boys to the benefits provided by playing sports. We are hopeful that this monumental settlement will be a building block in Hawaiʻi and nationwide to a future where every girl is ensured the rights required by Title IX.”

A copy of the proposed settlement agreement is available online.  Because the case was brought as a class action, the proposed settlement agreement requires court approval.  The Court will set a hearing on the settlement agreement at the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaiʻi for February 2024.

  *   *   *   *   *


Court Announcement

A proposed settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit on behalf of present and future Campbell High School female students who participate, seek to participate, and/or are or were deterred from participating in athletics at Campbell.

The court has authorized the notice below because class members have a right to know about a proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit before the court decides whether to approve the proposed settlement.…

A proposed settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit on behalf of present and future Campbell High School female students who participate, seek to participate, and/or are or were deterred from participating in athletics at Campbell ("Class Members").

The case was filed on December 6, 2018 in federal court against Defendants Hawaii Department of Education ("DOE") and Oahu Interscholastic Association ("OIA") (together, "Defendants") alleging sex discrimination in athletics under Title IX. The lawsuit, A.B. v. Hawaii State Department of Education, Case No. 1: 18-cv- 00477-LEK-RT, alleged:

Defendants unlawfully denied female students opportunities to participate in sports on an equal level with male students; AND

Defendants unlawfully denied female students athletic facilities, coaching, competition opportunities, and other athletic benefits on an equal level with male students; AND

DOE unlawfully retaliated against female athletes because of complaints they made about this unequal treatment for girls.

The Court authorized this notice because Class Members have a right to know about a proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit before the Court decides whether to approve the proposed settlement. On October 27, 2023, the U.S. District Court of Hawaii preliminarily approved a settlement in this case.

The Court will hold a hearing to discuss the settlement on February 16, 2024 at 10:30a.m., in Courtroom Aha Nonoi at the courthouse address below. Class Members may attend the hearing. Class Members may send comments about the settlement before the hearing. Please postmark any comments by February 9, 2024….

News Release from Hawaii DoE, Jan 16, 2024

PDF: Proposed Settlement Agreement


Oct 28, 2023: State settles sex discrimination case with Campbell female athletes

Aug 31, 2023: While Fighting Against Female Lockerrooms in Hawaii Schools, Hawaii AG Files Brief for Title IX Trannies

2023: UH Mānoa Student vs Hawaii DoE in Title IX Lawsuit

2022: 9th Circuit Allows Class Action Suit over Lack of Female Locker Rooms in Hawaii DoE Schools

2020: Campbell HS: DoE Lawyers Fight Female Athletes Over Technicalities

2019: 47 Years After Title IX Becomes Law--Kalani HS Finally Gets a Girls Locker Room > Hawaii Free Press

2019: ACLU: DoE Would Rather Litigate Than Build Locker Rooms for Female Students

2018: Title IX Lawsuit: ACLU Sues over Lack of Female Athletic Facilities at DoE Schools



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