Class certification ruling in Title IX lawsuit nears

A hearing was held Thursday in U.S. District Court on the merits of certifying a lawsuit filed by three Campbell athletes as a class-action case.

If Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi eventually rules to certify it as a class action, the number of plaintiffs would increase to all present, future and potential female student-athletes at Campbell.

The suit alleges gender-based bias and unequal treatment of female athletes and it was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union Hawaii chapter in December. The Department of Education and the Oahu Interscholastic Association are the defendants.

At the hearing, Judge Kobayashi gave an inclination that the plaintiffs have met the burden to show that class certification was proper, according to Wookie Kim, an ACLU lawyer.

Kim said the judge wanted more information from both parties and won’t make a ruling until Oct. 3 at the earliest.

“We feel good about how the hearing went,” Kim said.

A call to OIA attorney Lyle Hosoda on Friday requesting comment was not returned.

Deputy attorney generals John Cregor, Kendall Moser and William Awong are representing the DOE.

“Class certification is a standard procedural step in any class action lawsuit and does not reflect on the DOE’s commitment to provide equal opportunities and treatment to all our student athletes,” read a statement sent by email by DOE spokesperson Krishna Jayaram.

The plaintiffs are seeking a remedy to what they feel is unequal treatment in athletic opportunities and facilities, which — if true — constitutes noncompliance with Title IX.

A federal law, Title IX states that, “No person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

NOTE: This story has been updated to add a comment by the Hawaii Department of Education.


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