Communities For Equity vs. The Michigan High School Athletic Association
MHSAA has appealed the verdict of the Federal district court in favor of CFE. The appeal will be heard at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio.

On December 19, 2001, MHSAA was found guilty of gender discrimination against the state's female high school athletes by assigning ONLY female athletes to play in inferior athletic seasons. MHSAA has filed an appeal with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Implementation of the COURT-ORDERED compliance plan is “on hold” until a decision on the appeal is made.

The following organizations filed “friend of the court” briefs SUPPORTING Communities for Equity and the District Court’s decision:

The United States of America (through the Department of Justice) &
American Association of University Women
ACLU and the Michigan Civil Liberties Union
Connecticut’s Women’s Education and Legal Fund
Equal Rights Advocates
Feminist Majority Foundation
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium
National Association for Sport and Physical Education
National Education Association
National Partnership for Women and Families
Northwest Women’s Law Center
NOW Foundation
NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Women’s Law Project

The following organizations filed briefs supporting MHSAA’s effort to overturn the District Court’s decision:

Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association
Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals
Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association
Michigan Association of School Boards
Michigan High School Coaches Association
Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan
Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Association
Michigan Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association
A ruling on the appeal is expected in 2004. If the District Court’s decision is upheld by the Sixth Circuit the realignment of seasons (according to MHSAA’s compliance plan) could occur in the 2005-2006 school year.

CFE is currently looking into the level of Title IX compliance amongst Michigan's high schools, district by district. This is a cooperative effort with the schools, but one with definite follow-up. We will initially contact the schools within each district and ask them to provide answers and data for a few specific questions. After we receive the information and compile the data, we will provide the results to the schools and their communities.

The pilot program and current funding is for Kent County only, but CFE’s goal is to conduct the investigation for every school district in the state of Michigan – all 50+ of them and the nearly 500 high schools within those districts. The estimated cost per district is $5,000. We are launching a three year campaign to accomplish this goal with yearly goals of $83,500 for the first two years and then $83,000 the final year.

The program goal is to educate the public schools within the state and the communities they serve as to what Title IX requires of them in order to achieve equity in sports programs for girls, and to apply pressure to ensure that compliance will be the rule rather than the exception. Because CFE has no paid staff, the work will be done by part-time workers, hired specifically for this project.

CFE and KISD Work Together To Provide Title IX Officer Training
On November 12, 2003, Communities for Equity and the Kent Intermediate School District (KISD) provided a two-hour workshop for Kent County Title IX officers. Kristen Galles, a Title IX expert and successful Title IX attorney was the presenter. Each attendee received an extensive introduction into Title IX basics and the legal requirements each school must address. Northview’s Title IX officer, Donna Host provided insight into audits that have already been done and is willing to share audits, surveys, and examples of compliance practices. Participant evaluations will determine whether a follow-up workshop in “best practices” may be of benefit. A special thanks to Mike Weiler, KISD Superintendent and his staff, and Presto Print for donating the copying of the Title IX manuals, and The National Women’s Law Center for the “Check It Out” booklets received by each attendee.

2003 : A YEAR in REVIEW
Communities for Equity board members have been diligently involved in many events to educate others about Title IX and to promote all aspects of athletic equity.


  1. CFE met with Michigan State School Board member Liz Bauer to discuss concerns regarding gender equity and athletics.
  2. CFE board members met with Michigan Department of Education (MDOE) regarding Title IX compliance.
  3. CFE board members addressed the KISD superintendents and advocated for Title IX officer training & compliance audits.
  4. CFE board member spoke at the Young Women for Change fundraising luncheon in Traverse City.
  5. CFE board members addressed the State School Board regarding Title IX compliance issues.


  1. CFE board member participated in a panel discussion at Grand Valley State University during National Women & Girls in Sports Day.
  2. CFE board members met with Ed Fernandez (Fox 17) to discuss additional coverage of girls’ athletics in the Grand Rapids area.
  3. CFE presented “Democracy In America” video at a Northview Board of Education meeting. This video features CFE’s advocacy work to eliminate gender discrimination in Michigan schools.


  1. CFE (Connie Engel) authored the first of many editorial features in Ponytail magazine.
  2. CFE board members presented “Title IX 101: Playing Fair” @ Aquinas College.
  3. CFE board member was the featured speaker @ West Michigan Volleyball Officials banquet.
  4. CFE board member was part of a panel discussion on Title IX & Athletics at ACLU conference @ University of Michigan


  1. CFE board members presented Title IX: Playing Fair to Aquinas college class.
  2. CFE board members met with State Dept of Ed. & KISD personnel to plan a Title IX workshop to train Title IX officers.


  1. CFE board member presented “Title IX: Playing Fair” as part of a cooperative presentation at the Michigan Students Parents Teacher Association in Lansing.
  2. Second Title IX article written by Connie Engel was published in Ponytail magazine.


  1. CFE met with KISD and MDOE to plan Title IX training workshop.
  2. CFE attended a statewide meeting with Michigan Department of Education (MDOE), American Association of University Women, (AAUW), Michigan Gender Equity Team (MGET), National Organization of Women (NOW), and Michigan Dept. of Justice to discuss the identification of and promotion of Title IX.


  1. CFE board members met with Tom Watkins, Superintendent of Public Instruction & Chief of Staff, Pam Wong, to discuss Title IX officer training and compliance issues.


  1. CFE Board member presented Title IX Playing Fair @ local chapter of AAUW.
  2. Kristen Galles & Board members met with KISD Superintendents in Big Rapids to discuss importance of Title IX compliance.
  3. CFE introduced its Advisory Board members at a reception at the Penn Club in Grand Rapids.


  1. CFE board members arranged for first-ever Title IX training @ KISD with Kristen Galles as instructor.
  2. YWCA awarded Board member Jay Eveland with YWCA Tribute award. This was a back-to-back award for CFE with Diane Madsen receiving this same award in 2002.
  3. CFE board members participated in Grand Rapids Public School committee on Improving Athletic Participation.


  1. CFE’s Title IX Status Report Campaign was announced.
  2. CFE board members participated in GRPS committee to improve athletic participation.

MHSAA's 2nd Compliance Plan
In October of 2002, the MHSAA filed a second compliance plan. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has also granted the MHSAA a "stay" in the implementation until the case is heard on appeal at the Circuit Court. Thus the implementation of this plan will not go into effect until 2004-2005 at the earliest.

Lower Peninsula:
Change volleyball from winter to FALL
Change girls' basketball from fall to WINTER
Change girls' golf from spring to FALL
Change girls' tennis from fall to SPRING
Change boys' golf from fall to SPRING
Change boys' tennis from spring to FALL

Upper Peninsula:
Change girls' soccer to FALL
Change girls' volleyball from winter to FALL
Change girls' basketball from fall to WINTER
Change boys' soccer from fall to SPRING

Friend from the Sunbelt
Last year Leslie Coulson, an attorney from Phoenix, Arizona, was looking forward to returning to Michigan for a class reunion. She was excited about meeting some of her old friends again and also wanted to get in touch with her high school science teacher, Diane Madsen. While talking with Diane before she arrived, she became acquainted with Communities for Equity, our organization that advocates for equity for girls here in Michigan.

Leslie asked a million questions and became enthralled with CFE's mission. It turns out her first love is civil rights issues. She feels that depriving girls of the same benefits in sports that boys receive is depriving them of their civil rights.

Upon Leslie's arrival in Michigan, she sought out Diane and wanted to meet as many CFE board members as possible. Plus she brought us a surprise! She came bearing a basketball with the signatures of the WNBA Phoenix Mercury basketball team. It is housed in a glass display box with an inscription that reads:

"To Communities for Equity With Admiration For All Of Your Efforts On Behalf of Michigan's Young Female Athletes" - The 2002 Phoenix Mercury Basketball Team

The basketball signifies all that is good about girls in sports and reaffirms our mission. When most members of CFE were growing up in the 60's and 70's, there were no women as role models for young girls in sports. Now there are high school, college, and professional female athletes, and the option of fulfilling one's dream as a participant is a reality for young women.

Leslie has become an invaluable friend, still helping us long distance from Arizona. As a great addition to our organization, she assisted members of CFE in creating our first web page. Plus, she is our first official out-of-state member, and we appreciate her dedication and support!

Leslie Coulson (holding basketball)

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