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Baranek: In compliance with Title IX, Homewood-Flossmoor upgrading softball facility

Varisty softball field Homewood-Flossmoor High School. |  Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media

Varisty softball field at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 23, 2013 2:19PM



Homewood-Flossmoor softball is moving into the 21st century.

Some might question why it’s going to be 14 years late in coming. But there are a lot more positives to dwell on as we update a story that first broke in the SouthtownStar in July.

Jodi Bryant, director of human resources and Title IX coordinator at H-F, revealed details Thursday of improvements planned for the softball field in light of a Title IX complaint alleging that the facility was not up to the standards of the school’s baseball diamond.

According to Bryant, after the 2013 softball season workers will install bleacher seating behind home plate, a press box, a permanent electronic public address system and a concession stand — all in compliance with an agreement approved by complainant Bob Carpenter.

Bryant indicated the school, beyond the agreed-upon improvements, also will be looking at ways to further enhance the softball facility.

“It’s a philosophy at H-F. When we do something we do it right,” Bryant said. “When we are finished it will look like a varsity softball complex. We’re going to make it a 21st century softball facility that will mirror our other venues. I think the community will be more than pleased.”

The school also expects in 2014 to complete the construction of a $25 million fieldhouse, which will be used by 35 sports, 75 teams and 90 clubs and activities in School Dist. 233.

The softball agreement did not include a plan to install lights such as those on the baseball diamond, which primarily are used in the summer by youth leagues and semipro teams. Bryant said “the utilization wouldn’t justify the expense” regarding lights for the softball facility.

The high school baseball team has regular-season games against Highland Park, scheduled at 7 p.m. April 5, and against Marian Catholic, scheduled at 7 p.m. May 3.

On June 6, Carpenter, who for two decades was the athletic director, and before that a baseball, football and boys basketball coach at Barrington High School, filed the Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. A volunteer scorekeeper for the softball team, Carpenter, who has two grandchildren who play sports at H-F, alleged gender discrimination.

The OCR agreed to take the case. Meetings were held beginning in July.

“We continued to communicate back and forth,” Bryant said. “And while we looked at softball, we also did an entire evaluation of our entire programs. As parents and community members we want the best for our kids, and when somebody doesn’t feel they’re getting the best we want to address those concerns.”

Bryant said that in addition to the softball upgrade, the school also added a girls team locker room inside the building.

For his part, Carpenter is pretty satisfied.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I wish I didn’t have to do it (file a complaint), but I’m very pleased they acknowledged there was a difference in the facilities and that they are addressing the differences.

“My goal was ... you wonder why the facilities aren’t equal everywhere you go. What’s the reason for that? It’s a question I ask at almost every field I go to except the Lincoln-Way schools. They do it the right way.”

A SouthtownStar survey indicated several schools in the Southland have similar differences in their baseball and softball facilities as at H-F.

Carpenter was surprised at hearing the baseball team will be using its lights for a least two night games.

“I haven’t seen the schedule,” he said. “I thought I had a verbal understanding the boys would no longer be using lights.”

Carpenter said he would not legally challenge the baseball program using the lights, but did plan on addressing the issue with the administration.

My opinion? Whether Carpenter had a verbal deal or he was just hearing things, H-F really is on such a positive roll here why smudge it, even a little? Lose the night games — and I don’t mean on the scoreboard.

Meanwhile, Carpenter still has a job as the team’s scorekeeper.

“I believe so,” he said with a chuckle. “I love doing it.”



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