January 18, 2019

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Call-to-action: Weigh in on proposed Title IX Regulations

The DeVos Administration has proposed some significant changes to how school districts respond to and investigate allegations of student sexual misconduct under Title IX. These changes include:

  •  Allowing districts to ignore sexual harassment/abuse reported by a student unless the student reports it to a teacher, Title IX coordinator or administrator  
  • Not requiring district to investigate or implement corrective action if a child reports harassment or abuse by a teacher to another teacher, instead of an employee with authority to institute corrective measures, such as a Title IX coordinator or school principal. 
  • Requiring districts to dismiss a formal Title IX complaint by a student if the alleged conduct occurred off-campus or online
  • Opening districts up to requests by parents and students that they employ “live hearings” where students would be cross-examined by the other’s “advisor of choice” on alleged misconduct
  • Requiring a separate and higher standard to be used for claims of student harassment and misconduct when compared to employee harassment and misconduct

Taken as a whole the proposed Title IX regulations would greatly alter the policies and practices from the 2001 Title IX guidance that district personnel have implemented for almost two decades. Further, these regulations have the potential to increase the likelihood of litigation in districts because they so severely restrict when and how districts can investigate and under what circumstances students can report. As a result, we are deeply worried that students may be less likely to view the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) as the main avenue for addressing and resolving their Title IX complaints against schools and instead pursue formal litigation against districts. Also, the new regulations will require significant new training of districts and cause confusion to school personnel regarding their responsibilities to report sexual harassment, including sexual assault.

Please take a moment to read AASA’s comments for more information on the Title IX regulations and then submit your own comments. We have created a short template you can copy below. The deadline to comment is January 30th. Directions on how to comment are also below. If you need any assistance filing comments please reach out to Sasha directly. 

AASA Template:

Dear Secretary DeVos:

As the xxxxx in xxxx district, I ask that you not move forward with the proposed regulations titled “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance.” These regulations would radically alter the process districts have been using since 2001 to investigate claims of sexual harassment and discrimination and lead to new costs for districts in retraining employees on the obligations of district personnel to report and investigate Title IX allegations by students and staff.

However, our greatest concern with the proposed regulations is that they will undermine our efforts to ensure each and every child we educate has a safe and healthy learning environment. Specifically, we read these regulations as making it more difficult for students to report sexual harassment and assault as well as tying the hands of districts that choose to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct that take place off-campus. It will also open districts to using questionable practices like informal mediation and live hearings that could add new and unanticipated burdens on district personnel as well as limit a student’s decision to move forward with an investigation.

While we welcome flexibility from the federal level and regulatory relief generally, these proposed regulations will make it more difficult for districts to respect and respond to the rights of students and employees who experience harassment and discrimination. Please withdraw these proposed regulations.

 Sincerely, 

 Xxx  

How to File Comments on Title IX Regulation 

  • Go to https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=ED-2018-OCR-0064-0001 
  • In the ‘Comment” box, type something similar to this: “As the superintendent of xxx, I  submit the following comments on the proposed regulation titled “ Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance.
  • Below the comment box:  
    • Upload your file
    • Enter your first and last name.
    • Click ‘continue’
  • Review the information on this page, including a check to ensure your document is attached.
  • Click the ‘I have read and understand’ item.
  • Click ‘Submit Comment’

 


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