A local school district that was out of compliance when it comes to providing equal access for girls who play sports is now being called a leader by the nonprofit that called them out.
Vista High School has a new softball field that is up to par with the baseball field, and that's not all. The field is part of a multi-use sports complex for both boys and girls sports, which includes field hockey, soccer, tennis, and track and field.
“We didn't really have the best quality, compared to men,” said female athlete Sarina Shulthess. “Although we had the same facilities, it wasn't at the same level. And so, I think that it has improved substantially.”
Three years ago, a Vista Unified School District student complained about inferior facilities, equipment, and treatment softball players were given compared to boys sports programs. Since then, District Superintendent Matt Doyle said the district has been working with the California Women's Law Center and Legal Aid At-Work, two nonprofits that sent a demand letter to the district to make changes.
“As soon as it was brought to our attention, we investigated it, and we determined what needed to change, and we quickly jumped on that change,” said Doyle, adding that the school board had already been working on the sports complex and on the issue of equity when the complaint was made.
Amy Poyer with the California Women's Law Center said Vista Unified is not alone. Most school districts, she says, are not in compliance with Title IX which provides, in part, equal access to girls and their opportunity to compete in sports.
“It’s a big issue,” Poyer said. Title IX turns 49 in just a few weeks. So, this law is almost 50 years old. There are... retired Olympians that credit this law for… what they were able to do in the sports they were able to play. So, progress has been made, but we still have a lot of work left to do," she said.