As we noted in our last blog post, the Biden administration recently announced plans to propose amendments to the Title IX regulations by April 2022. While this deadline is fast approaching, before you start thinking about changing your policies and procedures, remember that the Trump administration’s 2020 regulations are still in full effect and will continue to be for the time being.
With that in mind, we are launching a multi-part series where we’ll be providing a refresher on the key players on your Title IX team under the current 2020 regulations. Over the next several posts, we’ll highlight the roles and responsibilities of Title IX Coordinators, Investigators, Decision-Makers (Complaint and Appeal), Informal Resolution Facilitators, and Advisors, reviewing legal requirements and sharing practical tips and lessons that we’ve learned in the field.
Today, we’re focusing our spotlight on the Title IX Coordinator. The 2020 regulations require each K-12 and higher education institution receiving federal funds to designate at least one employee as the Title IX Coordinator, who has the primary responsibility of overseeing the school district or college’s Title IX compliance efforts.
Overview of Title IX Coordinator Responsibilities
Under the current regulations, the Title IX Coordinator is responsible for:
- Receiving verbal and written reports of sex-based discrimination and sexual harassment involving all students and employees within an educational program or activity;
- Responding promptly to allegations of sex-based misconduct, including contacting the complainant to discuss supportive measures and explain the process for filing a formal complaint;
- Receiving formal written complaints signed by a complainant alleging sexual harassment against a respondent, or, in the absence of a signed complaint by a complainant, determining whether there is a need to move forward with a formal complaint and investigation based on the circumstances;
- Coordinating and ensuring that appropriate supportive measures are equitably provided to both complainants and respondents;
- Coordinating the investigation and ensuring due process for all parties during the grievance process;
- Determining whether to dismiss the formal complaint, if at any point the complainant notifies the Title IX Coordinator in writing that the complainant would like to withdraw the complaint or from the process, the respondent is no longer enrolled or employed, or circumstances prevent the gathering of sufficient evidence to reach a final determination;
- Determining whether to initiate an informal resolution process, if available; and
- Implementing any disciplinary sanctions and remedies.
Note that the Title IX Coordinator is not permitted to serve as a Decision-Maker in either the Complaint or Appeal process.
In addition to overseeing the implementation of grievance procedures, the Title IX Coordinator’s responsibilities may also include overseeing the development and monitoring of policies and procedures in compliance with Title IX, providing educational materials and training for students and employees, monitoring students’ participation in athletics and academics to ensure an environment free from sex-based discrimination or retaliation, and coordinating all other aspects of the institution’s compliance with Title IX and related federal and state laws.
Title IX Coordinator Training Requirements
The 2020 regulations also require that the Title IX Coordinator receives training on the following topics:
- The definition of sexual harassment;
- The scope of the institution’s educational programs or activities;
- The process of conducting an investigation and hearing process, including hearings, appeals, and informal resolution processes; and
- How to avoid conflicts of interest and bias.
As the administrator responsible for overseeing a school’s Title IX compliance efforts, the Title IX Coordinator should also work with their institution’s administration to ensure that staff have received the appropriate training on their role and responsibilities under the institution’s Title IX policy and grievance procedures. This includes training that is required under the 2020 regulations, as well as any additional training identified to assist staff with proper implementation of the school’s Title IX policies. As always, our team is happy to discuss options for meeting training requirements and best practices.
Reminders and Tips
With so much on Title IX Coordinators’ plates, here are some key reminders and tips to keep in mind:
- Remember that even if a sexual harassment allegation does not meet the definition under Title IX, you can—and should—follow other institutional procedures to address it.
- Maintain clear documentation, including documentation of actions that you did not take (such as decisions not to apply Title IX policies or to file a formal complaint) and the reasons why, and be sure to follow the documentation requirements under the 2020 regulations.
- Maintain clear communications with front-line disciplinarians to ensure that conduct falling within the institution’s Title IX policy is properly identified and handled in accordance with the school’s Title IX grievance procedures.
- Routinely train and remind all responsible employees to immediately report any allegations of sex-based misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator.
- Work closely with your administrators and legal counsel to ensure compliance with other relevant federal and state laws—including those regarding student privacy and discipline—when implementing your procedures.
If you have questions about the roles and responsibilities of the Title IX Coordinator or other Title IX-related questions, feel free to reach out to the authors of this post. We look forward to continuing our series on the Title IX team, and we will keep you updated on any Title IX developments as they come.
*Also authored by Jenny Lee, a third-year law student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, currently a law clerk at Franczek P.C.