Education Department to Conduct Thorough Title IX Review, Propose Changes

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The process aims to address sexual assault, gender equity and LGBTQ rights as well as amendments issued by the Trump administration, officials said.

The U.S. Department of Education said Tuesday it will examine policies set forth by Title IX, including amendments issued by the Trump administration that took effect Aug. 14. The amendments required schools to change processes around reporting and investigating sexual harassment and assault claims, holding them liable if they failed to respond to notices by bus drivers, coaches, cafeteria staff and others.

Title IX is a federal civil rights law passed in 1972. It prohibits sex-based discrimination in any K-12 school, college or other education program that receives federal money.

A letter released by the Education Department said the review process will allow students, parents, school officials and advocates to provide feedback before the Biden administration offers its proposal for how schools and colleges receiving public funding must respond to allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

The letter states the process will include a public hearing to collect comments from educators, students and others. No date for the hearing has been set. 

President Biden signed an executive order last month that states “students should be guaranteed an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, including discrimination in the form of sexual harassment, which encompasses sexual violence, and including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

After hearing from the public and completing its review, the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights said it expects to publish proposed rule-making to amend the Title IX regulations.

Changes to Title IX were put in place by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that differed from President Obama's non-binding guidance. DeVos said in a statement at the time that “This new regulation requires schools to act in meaningful ways to support survivors of sexual misconduct, without sacrificing important safeguards to ensure a fair and transparent process.”

According to a statement from AASA: The School Superintendents Association, “The Trump Administration's actions on Title IX greatly altered the policies and practices from the 2001 Title IX guidance that district personnel have implemented for almost two decades.”

AASA said students would be less likely to view OCR as the main avenue for addressing and resolving their Title IX complaints and instead pursue formal litigation against school districts to the cost of taxpayers.

While the Biden administration’s review is ongoing, current Title IX regulations remain in place.

Brent Woodie is an associate editor at Route Fifty.

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