Title IX was created and defined as follows: “No person in the United States 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.” Title IX was created in 1972 and has been amended to include the exclusion of sex-based harassment or misconduct as well as the need for immediate report. Following Title IX regulations is extremely important for schools to create a safe environment for employees, teachers, and of course, the students. There are many steps that can be taken to aptly and professionally implement Title IX into daily operations.
Start With the Policy
The first step in creating an organization compliant with Title IX is to write the policy itself. To help guide the writing of your policy, the following are subjects to cover and questions to answer:
Who is the Title IX coordinator and how can school employees, parents, and students report to them?
What are actions of harassment? Providing definitions and examples helps.
Who and what types of cases fall under the jurisdiction of this policy?
After a report, how does the investigation process work?
What are the resolution options and their consequent processes? Providing a clear outline and time frame is best and will help the reporter feel safe and taken care of.
What are the hearing procedures and appeal options?
What are the consequences of retaliation or false accusations?
Assign Title IX Roles
With the policy in mind, there are many adaptations that may need to be made within your organization in order to best adhere to the newly updated Title IX regulations. These changes are essential since being in compliance with Title IX is not only legally necessary, but it establishes an environment where your students, teachers, and employees feel safer and trusting.
One of the most important steps is to appoint individuals to Title IX enforcement roles both school-wide and district-wide. The following are positions that need to be fulfilled. They must be trained and knowledgeable about the federal regulations and any updates. Besides the Title IX Coordinator, who must oversee the district, you can decide whether the other staff are delegated to school or district jurisdiction, or outsourced.
Title IX Coordinator: This leader will oversee all forms of conduct and, particularly, allegations of misconduct. It is imperative this person is up to date on all Title IX training, participating yearly, and is clearly identified for all school members, parents, and affiliates. They should be easily reached and their contact information readily available.
Investigator: Conducts thorough, adequate, reliable, and impartial investigations. The investigator does NOT make a decision about whether the respondent violated a policy.
Decision-maker: Reviews all evidence and determines whether a respondent has violated policy. A Title IX Coordinator and the Investigator may NOT serve as the “decision maker.”
Appeals officer: Intended to make a determination of a party’s request for an appeal. They are responsible for providing written notice of right to appeal to both parties.
Title IX in Action
When addressing actions that compromise Title IX, it is essential that resolution processes are efficient, unbiased, and just. Here are important actions and updates to maintain throughout:
Clearly notify both parties of each step of the process at the same time. For instance, notice of the allegations, investigation, hearings, outcomes, appeals, etc.
Create an open environment where both parties, the complainant and respondent, feel comfortable asking questions to the Title IX team, as well as to one another.
Provide a full, detailed, and comprehensive report of the entire process, allowing both parties to review and respond to any concerns.
Provide any necessary support tailored specific to the case at hand. For instance, counseling, modified schedules, security, travel support, etc.
Outlining the Roles of School Employees and Parents
The education of school employees and families in their roles concerning Title IX are also essential. Both of the following should, like Title IX coordinators, remain updated on all policy changes and reformations.
School Employees: As important leaders in students’ lives, it is a school employee’s responsibility to immediately report any sexual harassment witnessed between students and/or school employees. Once reported to the Title IX Coordinator, they will ensure the school takes necessary action.
Parents/guardians: Parents can be the first to notice warning signs of sexual harassment or misconduct. Schools should equip parents with information regarding how to recognize sexual harassment or misconduct and how to make a complaint.
With all essential and involved parties in mind, another important factor to consider is the specificity of accusation and reporting. Documentation NEEDS to be thorough. Consider training your staff, employees, teachers, and parents if necessary, how to clearly record, in writing, all actions, misconducts, and steps of the process.
Here to Help
Title IX may seem overwhelming, but it is absolutely necessary for the safety and success of your school. In a crucial time of ensuring you are compliant, McGrath’s Title IX training can help you to adapt and transform to the current Title IX regulations. We offer a free consultation as well as an understanding timeline and budget when helping you create a custom program for your needs.