This week The Education Department is holding five days of public hearings to collect comments on what parts of the Title IX regulations need changing.
Listen to the live hearing.
See NWLC’s guide on submitting a comment.
As most school administration and staff know there was a large change to Title IX regulations last year under Trump-era Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. These rules mandate how schools and colleges that receive federal funding must handle complaints of sexual harassment. During his campaign, President Biden promised to do something about the new Title IX changes, which many see as weakening the rights of victims. Sexual assault is an issue close to Biden, and he took very little time to start the process of changing them. He issued an executive order during his first week in office. Opponents of the updated regulations say that it severely limits victims by allowing accused more avenues of defense, restricts the school’s ability to investigate, and limits schools to only investigating incidents that happen at school or as part of a school activity. Defenders of the changes say that some of the protections for accused (including the right to a hearing with cross-examination through a third party, the ability for students to see all the evidence compiled and the presumption of innocence at the outset of an investigation) are essential to due process. Some of the changes asked for is to ensure that schools can’t punish those who report sexual abuse (including allowing schools to prosecute them under defamation laws) and schools should start releasing data annually on outcomes of student disciplinary cases involving sexual misconduct. Of large concern to many has been the definition of sexual harassment. The legal definition is far narrower than one used in workplace cases and requires harassment to be “severe and pervasive” rather than “severe or pervasive.” Another concern is requiring 10 days notice for all interviews. Requiring 10 days notice for an interview is unreasonable and can severely impact the quality of an investigation. Respondents may use this time to destroy evidence, engage in witness tampering, possibly put victims in danger and potentially taint investigations by the institution and law enforcement. Another big concern is the rise in dating violence with youth. One in 11 females and one in 14 males report experiencing dating violence. Since most youth do not directly report dating violence, it’s often reported by a friend who is unsure of the start date of harassment. Since there’s no clear outline for how to handle reports by other parties, it can mean that the incident isn’t investigated. McGrath Training Solutions has been through the rolling tide of changes to Title IX and will continue to be here to help you and your school navigate changes and requirements. If you’re interested in how we can help, please contact us today!