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Saugus Softball Boosters Claim Retaliation

Posted: February 6, 2008 11:32 a.m.
Updated: April 8, 2008 2:02 a.m.
Parents of Saugus High School softball players say they've been told the team's booster club has been disbanded, and some feel the action by school administrators could be retaliation for a complaint that was filed with the Office of Civil Rights for the Department of Education.

The complaint, filed in December but only recently made public, alleges that the Hart district discriminates against students on the basis of sex and disability within its sports programs and cites the Saugus softball field as one example.
The Softball Booster Club board met with softball Head Coach Julie Watson, who is an honorary board member, on Monday, said Karen Broussard, the group's treasurer. During that meeting, Watson said she and Principal Bill Bolde had disbanded the club, according to Broussard.
"She said that the club has been very negative from the beginning, and the girls are there (at the meetings) and she wants to get to a more positive place," Broussard said. "I had suggested that we keep the booster club open until the end of the year so we could finish what we started, then we can figure out what to do next year."
Watson did not return calls from The Signal but sent an e-mail stating: "I think it would be premature, at this point, to discuss any possible changes to our Booster Club without first meeting with the Saugus Softball parents."
The Saugus softball program has been controversial since the beginning of the school year, when parents and players pleaded with William S. Hart Union High School District governing board members to improve the field, which was in great disrepair after three years of serving as a site for portable buildings.
Despite Broussard's suggestion, she was told that the club had been disbanded and that a meeting would be held at 7 p.m. today to inform the other parents.
"To me, I feel that it's done. (Watson) said we were disbanded," Broussard said. "It now looks like they are shutting us down in retaliation to the complaint."
Booster club funds will be transferred to the Saugus High School ASB, which will take over the account, Broussard said. Parents can visit the ASB for a printout detailing how the money is being spent any time, she said.
Softball parent Tim Bullock said he hopes the organization will be resurrected under a different name.
"The club will still be there, just under a different name," Bullock said. "This is going to be considered a hostile act by the administrators in retaliation to the complaint filed with the Office of Civil Rights.
"This whole thing smells to high heaven. I'm shocked - I really am."
Saugus High Athletic Director Kevin Miner said that booster clubs are part of the school-run program, and it is the prerogative of the coach to have or not to have a club.
"If our coach decides she doesn't want to have a booster club, then that's her choice to do that, so all funds will be diverted to the ASB," Miner said.
Because of all the in-fighting, Broussard said she is fine with the club being disbanded, but other parents - including her husband - are against it.
"Wednesday should be interesting, because a lot of parents are against this and they won't keep quiet," Broussard said.
Broussard said she hopes the district will keep its promise and ensure the booster club funds go to items such as equipment and uniforms, and not to field repairs and maintenance.
"If they don't clarify where the money is going, I don't think parents are going to help, and then it's the team that suffers," Broussard said. "And the whole point of this is to do things to help the team."
The meeting to discuss the booster club is scheduled for 7 p.m. in room S-1 on the Saugus High campus.


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