It has been over two months since the 2020 Title IX regulations setting forth a new procedure for addressing school-based Title IX sexual harassment complaints went into effect. The new rules require, among many other things, that all members of what we here at Franczek P.C. call the “Title IX Team” receive training. Our attorneys are leaders in helping schools and their attorneys learn the new law, both through free resources and a comprehensive training package that allows training of the entire Title IX Team–a feat that cannot be achieved through free resources alone. This blog includes a refresher on what training is required, who needs Title IX training, what to look for in a training provider, and a comprehensive list of the free resources your school, college, or university can use to help meet the compliance requirements of the new Title IX.

What training is required?

Title IX personnel must be trained on several particular topics, including the definition of sexual harassment, the scope of a school’s program or activity for Title IX purposes, the new grievance process required by the rule, and how to serve impartially to avoid prejudgment of the facts at issue, conflicts of interest, and bias.

Some of these requirements–including those addressing your school’s program or activity and grievance process–necessitate personalized training focused not on the generalities of the new rules but on the specifics of how they are implemented at your institution.

The requirement to train on fairness is also notable because the Department of Education’s new rules are clearly focused on making the process fair for all parties, especially for alleged sexual harassment victims. Although general training sessions can introduce this topic, schools should offer training focused on the specifics of how to identify and avoid bias, conflict of interest, and prejudgment of the facts to meet the requirements of the new rules. Trauma-informed training is also important, with a renewed focus under the rules on the trauma that both parties can experience during underlying incidents and the investigation and adjudication process.

Who must receive Title IX training?

Each member of your “Title IX Team” must receive training. This includes your educational institution’s Title IX Coordinator, investigators, initial decision-makers (on the complaint), appellate decision-makers, and informal resolution facilitators. Individuals to whom the Title IX Coordinator wants to “delegate” responsibilities under the new rules–a powerful and useful tool that Title IX Coordinators will almost certainly need to use–should receive Coordinator training in addition to training for any other roles they may play. For most institutions, this will be a large group of trainees.

For example, a K-12 school district might train all of its building-level assistant principals, deans, and principals as well as its Title IX Coordinator, Superintendent, and three to five other district-level administrators. These individuals should be trained not only on the basics of Title IX but on the specifics required for each role. For example, investigators must be trained to conduct fair and impartial investigations. Initial decision-makers must be trained on conducting the new “written cross-examination” process required in the rules.

What to look for in a training provider?

The Department of Education left schools, colleges, and universities flexibility to design or select training components that best serve the educational institutions’ unique needs and educational environment, as long as they meet the prescribed training topics necessary to comply with the final regulations.

However, the Department encouraged recipients to pursue training from sources that rely on qualified, experienced professionals, including those with experience with the administrative and investigatory practices raised in the rules. Because the new rules require that educational institutions post all materials used to train the Title IX Team on the school’s website, if it has one, schools should be careful to choose sources for training that understand the intricacies of the new rule’s requirements that training is unbiased and not based on sex-stereotypes.

Comprehensive list of free training resources

Our Franczek Title IX attorneys have provided countless hours of free training resources for schools, colleges, and universities on the new Title IX rules.

For all Franczek webinars, you can link to the webinar link on our webpage to fulfill the requirement to post materials online or download the materials from our website to post to yours.

Title IX Coordinators and other administrators with responsibilities for implementing the new Title IX rules on their campuses should consider the following webinars:

For a general introduction to the Title IX rules for all Title IX Team members, consider having your team watch our Franczek Webinar—The New Title IX: What You Should Know Now to learn the background of the new law.

Our monthly Title IX T.E.A.M. (Title IX Educational Administrators Meetup) webinars are also monthly, complimentary webinars for administrators on your educational institution’s Title IX Team. Our most recent webinar, for example, addressed the Title IX “Big Five.” Next month, we will provide an update on the many instances in which OCR has given us non-regulatory insight into how it might interpret the new Title IX rules. For all Franczek webinars, you can link to the webinar link on our webpage to fulfill the requirement to post materials online or download the materials from our website to post to yours.

OCR also has issued numerous free webinars on the new Title IX rules. Although the OCR webinars are almost comically bland, they can be useful in helping bring your team up to speed. Relevant webinars include the following:

Outside organizations also offer some significant resources for their members, many of which have featured members of the Franczek Title IX Team. In the K-12 realm, for instance, Franczek attorneys have presented complimentary webinars for members of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators, the National School Boards Association Council of School Attorneys, the Illinois Association of School Personnel Administrators, and many others. For information about the free resources your organization may offer, contact your organization’s leadership.

Finally, there are some wonderful free resources out there dealing with fairness, bias, conflict of interest, and trauma in the realm of sexual harassment. At the recent ATIXA annual conference, psychologist and brain expert Dr. Jim Hopper spoke about sexual assault and the brain. His website is full of information on this important topic, including training videos on diverse topics. You can also find great resources all across the internet, including this example from a University in Colorado discussing bias, conflict of interest, and prejudgment in an easy-to-read way.

As noted, these free resources are a great way to get your feet wet with required Title IX training. Posting these links, videos, and PowerPoints on your website will show your community how seriously you take this change and how much work your team has put into compliance.

Remember, however, that training complying with the new regs will require learning more than the basics offered in a short introductory webinar. Franczek’s comprehensive training packages are designed to address all of the new Title IX rules’ compliance requirements and recommendations. For more information about our K-12 and higher education training options, contact us at K-12 administrators can also attend our upcoming Title IX Basic and Role Training for K-12 Administrators on October 30, 2020.