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Coach Roderick Jackson’s Title IX Story

Roderick Jackson is a high school girl's basketball coach in Alabama who could not stand by in silence when he knew his players were being treated worse than the boys' team. The girls were not allowed to use the new, regulation gym the boys' team used; instead, the girls had to practice and play in the old gym with its wooden backboards, bent rims, and no heat. Although the boys' team was driven to away games by bus, the girls had to make their own arrangements and travel by car when the girls' and boys' games were scheduled at different times. In addition, the girls couldn't get to some of the equipment that was available to the boys, including the ice machine. On one occasion, Jackson was forced to break into the ice machine to treat an injured player.

Money was another major problem. The girls were routinely denied any share of the money donated to the school athletics program by the City of Birmingham. And, while the boys' team was allowed to keep money from admissions and concession sales during their games, the girls' team was not. This made it hard for the girls to pay for game costs, like paying for game officials.

Coach Jackson questioned school officials about this different treatment and received no answers. He kept asking and fighting for his team. The result: He was fired. Feeling he had no other alternative, he sued under Title IX. His case has gone all the way to the Supreme Court.

On November 30, 2004, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Coach Jackson's case to decide whether those who are penalized for complaining about sex discrimination can go to court to challenge the retaliation to which they are subjected. In March 2005,The Supreme Court agreed with Mr. Jackson. They said schools couldn't punish people for standing up for the students' rights. Knowing that we're protected against retaliation, people like my students and me will be more likely to come forward if we see discrimination. Then, students and administrators can work together to fix problems. That's all I really wanted.

While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Coach Jackson could sue for retaliation, they did not guarantee that he would get his job back. But, on November 29 2006 the Birmingham School Board and Coach Jackson reached a settlement. The Board of Education agreed Jackson will be made whole and officially named head coach of the girls’ varsity basketball team at Jackson-Olin High School in Birmingham, with the same benefits and arrangements that the Board of Education provides for other head coaches. They also agreed to take all steps necessary to ensure a level playing field for female athletes in all its schools and programs, including appointing Title IX Coordinators for the Birmingham school system and for each school within the system; adopting Title IX polices and grievance procedures; conducting all training necessary to ensure compliance with Title IX; and conducting a review of compliance with the Title IX athletics regulations in all schools and programs in the Birmingham school system and preparing public reports of the findings. “I’m very pleased with this agreement,” said Roderick Jackson. “My aim all along was to ensure fair treatment for Birmingham female athletes and this agreement, at long last, should guarantee that happens.