On October 7, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a blog post clarifying the definitions of “sexual assault,” “dating violence,” “domestic violence,” and “stalking” under Title IX. Your educational institution should review its policies and procedures to include this important information. Any revisions should be posted on your institution’s website along with other procedures. For K-12 institutions that use the Illinois Association of School Board’s PRESS policies, our team has revised PRESS 2:265 Exhibit 1 (E1) to address these important changes. Contact TitleIX@Franczek.com or your Franczek attorney to obtain a copy of the revised procedure.

School leaders will recall that the new Title IX sexual harassment regulations define Title IX sexual harassment to include four terms (sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking) “as defined in” the Clery Act and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Clery and VAWA are two federal laws that govern higher education institutions. The Title IX regulations issued in May 2020 included vague cross-references for these four terms which, when checked, created additional confusion.

Now, OCR has provided additional information that schools, colleges, and universities can use when deciding whether reported conduct fits within the definition of Title IX sexual harassment and triggers the use of the school’s Title IX sexual harassment procedures. Accordingly, we recommend that you update your policies and procedures as necessary to include the clarified definitions from OCR.