Published Online: December 5, 2006
Published in Print: December 6, 2006, as Coach in Title IX Case Wins Reinstatement

Law Update

Coach in Title IX Case Wins Reinstatement

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A high school basketball coach who was at the center of an important U.S. Supreme Court decision on sex discrimination and retaliation under the federal Title IX law reached a settlement last week with the Birmingham, Ala., school board.

Roderick L. Jackson was fired as a high school girls' basketball coach after complaining about inequitable treatment of his team. Last week, he settled his lawsuit and was reinstated as a coach in Birmingham, Ala.
Roderick L. Jackson was fired as a high school girls' basketball coach after complaining about inequitable treatment of his team. Last week, he settled his lawsuit and was reinstated as a coach in Birmingham, Ala.
—File photo by Allison Shelley/Education Week

Roderick L. Jackson will be named head coach of the girls’ varsity basketball team at Jackson-Olin High School in Birmingham, under the same terms that the 32,000-student school district provides other head coaches.

The school board agreed to take any steps necessary to ensure that Mr. Jackson is protected from all forms of discrimination, including retaliation for making complaints that allege violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally financed education programs.

“I’m very pleased with this agreement,” Mr. Jackson said in a statement released by his lawyers. “My aim all along was to ensure fair treatment for Birmingham female athletes, and this agreement, at long last, should guarantee that happens.”

In 2001, Mr. Jackson was fired as a coach at Birmingham’s Ensley High School after he complained about inequitable treatment of the girls’ basketball team compared with that of the boys’ team. Since that time, Ensley High has closed.

In March 2005, the Supreme Court ruled in Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education that Title IX’s protections extend to anyone who complains of sex discrimination, including someone such as a coach who is not the direct victim of the discriminatory treatment.

The opinion in the 5-4 decision, which was written by then-Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, also said that Mr. Jackson could make a claim for retaliation under Title IX, which he subsequently did in the federal district court in Birmingham.

In last week’s settlement, the school district also agreed to several steps to ensure equal treatment for female athletes in all its schools and programs, including appointing Title IX coordinators for the school district and at each school, adopting policies and grievance procedures, and providing training to ensure that schools comply with the law.

Vol. 26, Issue 14, Page 14

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