Judge rules for Baldwin softball players - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Judge rules for Baldwin softball players

Laurie Temple Laurie Temple

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

WAILUKU, Maui (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the last three seasons, Baldwin High School's softball team has been Maui "no ka oe," finishing first and winning the state tournament in 2007.

But a lawsuit filed in federal court said the state Department of Education and Maui county dropped the ball by moving the team to another playing field.

"That field is in terrible condition," said Laurie Temple, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Temple and the team's coach, Joe Duran, said the playing surface is rocky, uneven, and dangerous.

"When you're hitting ground balls it'll find a rock no matter what happens and it'll take a bad bounce. It has gotten one of our girls hit on the head," he said.

The field's a mile away from campus, causing the girls to have to walk to practice and games if they don't drive or catch a ride.

Temple said one of the girls was recently assaulted.

The lawsuit was taken out by Duran, three of the players and their parents. It claims a violation of Title 9, the federal law that covers girl's athletics.

"Both the county of Maui and the Department of Education receive federal funds to operate educational programs. So, therefore, they need to treat boys and girls equally in all their programs," Temple said.

Friday afternoon Federal Judge David Ezra agreed and granted a preliminary injunction.

The girls were moved from their old field so repairs could be made. The judge appointed an expert to recommend what should be done.

"The players want to be treated fairly and with respect," Temple said.

Baldwin's baseball team plays in a state-of-the-art stadium while the softball team built a powerhouse in much humbler surroundings.

The victory in court was a big step toward leveling the playing field.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly