News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Justice Dept. Backs Teacher's Title IX Case

The Bush administration urged the U.S. Supreme Court last week to accept the appeal of an Alabama high school teacher who said he had lost his coaching duties in retaliation for complaining about illegal sex discrimination against the girls’ basketball team.

Physical education teacher Roderick L. Jackson sued the Birmingham, Ala., school district in 2001, contending that officials had violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. He said he was stripped of his paid coaching duties and given negative job evaluations after complaining that his female players received facilities and funding that were inferior to those of the boys’ basketball program. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, held that Mr. Jackson had no right to sue under Title IX.

In a brief in Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education (Case No. 1672), filed May 11 at the invitation of the high court, U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson argues that contrary to the appellate ruling, private lawsuits for alleged retaliation are permitted under Title IX, the main federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in schools that receive federal aid, even if the person retaliated against was not the victim of the discrimination that prompted the original complaint.

"Teachers and coaches are often in a much better position to identify sex discrimination and express opposition to it than are the students who are denied equal educational opportunities," he writes.

—Caroline Hendrie

House Lawmakers Seeking Inquiry on Head Start Official

Two House members are calling for an investigation into allegations of financial misdeeds by the top federal Head Start official, dating back to her leadership of a local Head Start program in Texas.

Reps. George Miller and Lynn Woolsey, both California Democrats, sent a letter May 7 requesting that Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson investigate the actions of Head Start chief Windy M. Hill when she was the executive director of Cen-Tex Family Services Inc., a Head Start grantee in Bastrop, Texas, from 1993 to 2002.

A 2002 independent audit detailed accounting and administrative problems at the Texas agency. Last month, the National Head Start Association called for Ms. Hill’s ouster, but her boss, Wade F. Horn, the assistant secretary for children and families in the Health and Human Services Department, called the allegations a "mean-spirited and unwarranted attack." ("Head Start Director Criticized on Past Tenure," April 21, 2004.)

—Michelle R. Davis

Vol. 23, Issue 37, Page 30

Published in Print: May 19, 2004, as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
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