EdCC athletes file discrimination suit

By ERIC STEVICK

Herald Writer

An Oklahoma law firm that specializes in sexual discrimination cases has filed a federal lawsuit against Edmonds Community College, alleging the school is violating the rights of softball team members.

At the center of the lawsuit is an on-campus construction project that claims the women’s softball field and forces them to play at a local high school.

The class action lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, names the EdCC Board of Directors and President Jack Oharah as defendants. Five EdCC softball players brought the suit, which does not seek damages.

In court papers, the softball players allege their rights are being violated under Title IX, which bans sexual discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal money, and the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The softball players allege the college provides superior locker rooms, practice facilities and competition facilities for male athletes.

Sharron Sellers, EdCC director of communications and marketing, said the college has not yet seen the lawsuit, which was filed Sept. 27.

Space is at a premium on the Lynnwood campus. EdCC is adding a higher education center to its campus where students from EdCC and Central Washington University will be able to take classes in the same building.

EdCC is working with the Edmonds School District and city of Lynnwood to replace the field used by the women’s softball team and the men’s and women’s soccer teams, Sellers said.

"The construction of a new facility created a real need for a new parking site on campus, and the college identified the current soccer field as the best location for this site," Sellers said.

The plan is to renovate and upgrade the Lynnwood High School athletic field and provide transportation for the college softball players.

The fact that the women’s team won’t have an on-campus field and must share space on a field that is not the same quality is inequitable, said Samuel Schiller, an Oklahoma attorney representing the players.

"They just don’t have a home field," Schiller said. "That’s all there is to it.

"Look at their fields," Schiller said. "What has happened is they had a baseball field on campus, and they had a softball field that wasn’t as nice but it was at least on campus. They tore down the softball field to make room for a parking lot. So they moved the girls to Lynnwood High School … (and) it’s clearly an inferior field.

"It is important to note that the girls are not seeking damages, although there is certainly nothing preventing them from doing so," Schiller said. "They do not seek a windfall, but only desire to see the problems resolved, not just for themselves, but also for those who follow them."

One of the players named in the lawsuit, Marylynne Zaugg, a second-year player at EdCC, said the team wants its own field, preferably on or near campus.

"At this point, a field that is the same standard as the guys would be nice," she said.

It is difficult to drive by the area that was once the field, she said.

Zaugg liked to work on it with her teammates for the feeling of ownership it instilled in the team. She recalled the time her team went out between games on a rainy day and bought 40 bags of kitty litter to dry the field.

The team can’t experience that same feeling with a field miles from campus that belongs to the school district, she said.

Meanwhile, Sellers said the college values women’s athletics.

"Edmonds Community College has a longstanding commitment to women’s athletics. Our commitment is genuine and meaningful under the law. We agree that women’s sports have significant educational value and that the benefits of athletics are great for both men and women."

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

N3054V accident site. (Alaska State Trooper Photo)
Lake Stevens pilot, who lived ‘Alaska dream,’ died in Fairbanks crash

Former Snohomish County lawyer Harry “Ray” Secoy III, 63, worked as a DC-4 pilot in Alaska in the last years of his life.

Air and ground search and rescue teams found Jerry Riedinger’s plane near Humpback Mountain on Monday. (WSDOT photo)
Remains of pilot recovered near Snoqualmie Pass after Arlington flight

Jerry Riedinger never made it to Ephrata after departing the Arlington airport Sunday. Investigators have not determined the cause of the crash.

Federal prosecutors say the two men shown here outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, are Tucker Weston, left, and Jesse Watson. (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia)
Lynnwood roommates sentenced for roles in Jan. 6 riot

Tucker Weston was given two years in prison Thursday. Jesse Watson received three years of probation in August 2023.

Lynnwood
Lynnwood firm faces $790K in fines for improper asbestos handling

State regulators said this is the fifth time Seattle Asbestos of Washington violated “essential” safety measures.

A truck towing a travel trailer crashed into a home in the Esperance neighborhood Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (South County Fire)
Man seriously injured after his truck rolls into Edmonds home

One resident was inside the home in the 22500 block of 8th Avenue W, but wasn’t injured, fire officials said.

Ferry workers wait for cars to start loading onto the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Memorial Day holiday weekend travel nightmare is upon us

Going somewhere this weekend? You’ll have lots of company — 44 million new BFFs — on planes, trains and automobiles.

Bothell
Bothell family says racism at Seattle Children’s led to teen’s death

In February 2021, Sahana Ramesh, the daughter of Indian immigrants, died after months of suffering from a rare disease.

Boeing Firefighters and supporters have a camp set up outside of Boeing on Airport Road as the company’s lockout of union firefighters approaches two weeks on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Union firefighters reject Boeing’s latest contract offer

The union’s 125 firefighters on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected the offer, which included “an improved wage growth” schedule

A “No Shooting” sign on DNR land near Spada Lake is full of bullet holes on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, along Sultan Basin Road near Sultan, Washington. People frequent multiple locations along the road to use firearms despite signage warning them not to. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
County pumps the brakes on planned Sultan shooting range

The $47 million project, in the works for decades, has no partner or funding. County parks officials are reconsidering its viability.

Suzan DelBene, left, Rick Larsen
Larsen, DelBene request over $40M for projects in Snohomish County

If approved, Congress would foot the bill for traffic fixes, public transit, LED lights and much more around the county.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.