Thursday, November 19, 2015

OCR Title IX Roundup

Here are links for a few recent stories about administrative enforcement of Title IX:

The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has entered into an agreement with Mercer County Community College in New Jersey that will require the college to revise its grievance procedure to comply with Title IX requirements and review all sexual harassment and sexual assault complaints filed in the last academic year to determine whether those requirements were satisfied. The college's grievance procedure must be revised on a number of matters such as identifying its application to all matters of sex discrimination including sexual harassment and sexual violence, clarifying the process for filing a complaint, establishing a prompt time frame for resolution, endorsing a preponderance evidence standard of proof, and providing similar procedural rights for the complainant and respondent.

OCR has reportedly opened three investigations at universities in the state of Texas in the past year, including a broadly-focused one at Texas A&M that will consider a male student's complaint that the university's disciplinary process violates male respondents' rights.  The complainant in that case was suspended for seven months after a disciplinary hearing found that he had violated university policy by forcing a female student to have oral sex with him.  Though OCR investigations into issues related to sexual assault typically focus on the rights of the complainant, it is not unprecedented for OCR to investigate respondent's rights as it is doing here, as demonstrated by an ongoing investigation at Brandeis.

A student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater filed a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights alleging that the Dean of Students did not adequately respond to a sexual assault she reported; specifically, in that the Dean failed to interview witnesses to the incident or accept the student's police report or medical records from the incident.  She also alleges that it was three months before her assailant was removed from her classes.