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Coach Sues LAUSD

  • 23 September, 2019

Boys Coach Says He Was Fired for Saying Girls Teams Get Perks

The head baseball coach at a magnet school is suing the Los Angeles Unified School District for retaliation, saying he was fired after alleging girls teams at the school got preferential treatment over boys teams.

James Darryl Washburn filed suit April 25 against the district and the magnet school, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies. He says he was terminated after voicing concern that LACES wasn’t in compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which requires equal treatment of female and male student-athletes.

“For years, employees have been reluctant to speak-up in the workplace when they saw illegal activity or wrongdoing for fear of retaliation or termination. Today, there are laws in place to protect those very employees and as such, Valiant Law is proud to represent Mr. Washburn as we seek vindication for the wrongful and retaliatory acts he suffered at the hands of the LAUSD,” Raymond Babaian, founder of Valiant Law in Ontario, Calif., and counsel to the plaintiff, said in an email. “Together with Mr. Washburn, Valiant Law will stop at nothing to seek justice against these heinous acts.”

Washburn alleges that the baseball team at LACES wasn’t treated comparably with the softball team.

“At LACES, there are no facilities for baseball. There is no playing field, no practice field, not even a designated area for baseball players to practice,” attorneys wrote in the complaint. “LACES does however have a softball field, a soccer field, a swimming pool, basketball courts, volleyball courts, and five tennis courts. As a result, there is a field for every sport except baseball.”

Complaint Filed

Washburn said he complained to the principal and other school officials about perceived noncompliance with Title IX but his concerns ultimately were disregarded. He reportedly didn’t file a complaint himself but encouraged parents to do so.

On April 16, 2018, parent Holly Cantos filed a Title IX complaint with the district. The ensuing investigation concluded that the “male and female athletes were afforded equitable treatment and access overall,” court records show.

Cantos appealed the school district’s investigation to the California Department of Education in July 2018, and the department sent the issue back to the district. At that time, Washburn said, he was terminated from his coaching position.

Babaian said Washburn “did his part for society” by educating the parents about their rights under state and federal law.

“Those parents, in turn, filed various complaints with LAUSD in hopes of providing their boys’ teams with fair and equal access,” Babaian said.

Washburn hit the school district with multiple retaliation claims, as well as with counts for wrongful termination and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. LAUSD is one of the largest school districts in the country with 1,180 K-12 schools.

Washburn seeks general economic and non-economic damages, compensatory damages, injunctive relief, restitution of unpaid monies, liquidated damages, civil penalties, special damages, punitive damages, and further relief.

School district representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source:  David McAfee, Bloomberg Law

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