The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights recently released “Questions and Answers on the Title IX Regulations on Sexual Harassment” clarifying schools’ obligations and highlighting procedures when responding to complaints of sex discrimination and sexual harassment.
Title IX is the landmark federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal funds. In 2020, the Trump administration issued regulations dictating how school districts must respond to complaints of sexual harassment.
The Q&A document aims to assist schools and colleges by noting areas of discretion in their procedures. Several key points include:
- The 2020 regulations are “minimum steps” for educators.
- Schools can go beyond the Title IX regulations when responding to allegations of sexual misconduct if the additional steps don’t conflict with the 2020 rules or Title IX itself.
- Schools may respond to allegations of sexual misconduct that don’t meet the definition of sexual harassment spelled out in the 2020 regulations.
- Elementary and secondary schools must respond any time any school employee “has noticed that sexual harassment might have occurred”.
An appendix is included in the Q&A document that provides examples of Title IX procedures that may be helpful in implementing current rules.
Title IX review
The 2020 amendments remain in effect while the department conducts a comprehensive review of Title IX regulations due to an executive order signed by President Biden. The review could lead to significant changes in policies addressing how both schools and institutions of higher education respond to allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
The education department’s review included holding a hearing on Title IX enforcement that allowed testimonies from participants to share their concerns, experiences, and opinions. The transcript is available to the public.
Concerns about the practicality of implementing Title IX continue. There are a multitude of TASB resources available to assist entities including:
Additional guidance and information can be found in board policies FFH (LEGAL), FFH (LOCAL), DIA (LEGAL), and DIA (LOCAL). For additional assistance, please contact HR Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.580.7782 or Legal Services at email@example.com or 800.580.5345.
Cheryl Hoover is an HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Cheryl an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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