Most recently, the Office for Civil Rights announced last week that it resolved Title IX violations by Whittenburg University in Ohio. The agency's investigation had been triggered by two complaints, filed in 2011 and 2013 respectively. In addition to finding flaws with the university's written policies, it also determined that the university violated Title IX requirements in the way that it handled specific students' cases. For instance, it found the university officials told the family of one student who had reported being sexually assaulted that they would suspend the university's disciplinary process if the family pressed criminal charges. They also included information about the student's prior, unrelated sexual history in its investigative report that was distributed to the hearing panel. In another case, the university's investigation was unreasonably delayed and the student who reported having been raped was not offered interim measures such as academic accommodations or counseling. Failure to offer interim measures was also a deficiency in yet another case, one that OCR also criticized for having been insufficiently investigated.
Earlier, on March 9, the agency announced a resolution with Palo Alto Unified School District after finding violations of Title IX's requirement that educational institutions respond promptly and equitably to reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence. In one example, an assistant principal in the district received 25 reports from staff and faculty about sexually harassing behavior by the now-former principal, as well as a report that the principal had engaged in unwelcome physical contact with students. These reports accumulated for three years before the assistant principal finally addressed them with the Title IX coordinator. Though the district investigated and responded at that point, it treated the matter only as a personnel issue and did not investigate with Title IX compliance or obligations in mind. Another time, the school district failed to conduct its own investigation of a student's report of having been sexually assaulted by a fellow student off-campus (though it did assist the student in filing a police report and offered other support). Nor did the district investigate the subsequent sexual harassment that the student reported she was subjected to for having reported the initial assault.
Prior to that, on February 16, the University of Alaska agreed to revisit 23 cases of reported sexual harassment or assault that the university failed to adequately address, according to OCR findings. In some of these cases, the university failed entirely to conduct an investigation, such as a case in which faculty members learned that one of their students had been accused of sexually harassing middle school students at the site of his student teaching placement. Even when the student was arrested for similar misconduct, the university continued its inaction, apparently because no university students had been victims. Other examples of the university's failure to investigate included a case in which a student reported a professor's sexual harassment, and where a student reported being assaulted in a university residential building by a non-student. Besides failing to investigate, unreasonable delay was another frequent problem cited by OCR. On the Fairbanks campus, the average investigation in 2013-14 lasted 122 days and the longest was 567 -- far longer than the 60-day timeframe that should normally occur. At Anchorage, the longest was 403 and average of 97. OCR's investigation also cited cases where the university failed to prevent retaliation, failed to provide the complainant with notice of the outcome, failed to provide complainants with interim measures, and other problems.
All three resolution agreements imposed familiar requirements on the educational institution in question: assessing past reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence to determine whether the institution's response satisfied Title IX requirements; correcting problems where possible; revising policies and procedures to bring them into compliance; and improving training opportunities for relevant staff. Alaska's agreement also included requirements to assess the campus climate, conduct informational sessions with students and otherwise improve the dissemination of information about the process for addressing sexual harassment and sexual assault, improve coordination with local enforcement, and other requirements.