In 2017, a high school cheerleader learned she had not made the varsity team and turned to Snapchat. She posted a picture of herself and a friend, middle fingers up, with the text “f— school f— softball f— cheer f— everything.” She was subsequently suspended from the Junior Varsity cheer team. Little did she know that her frustrated message would lead to the first U.S. Supreme Court case to address the limits of school discipline for student off-campus, online speech.

Yet, last Friday, the Supreme Court decided to hear the student’s challenge to the school’s discipline for her Snapchat post. I have been writing about the scope of K-12 schools’ authority to discipline students for off-campus, online misconduct for a long time. The Supreme Court has long refused to take on similar cases, despite pleas from administrators for better guidance on their rights. The result is that courts have reached different decisions in different parts of the country, making it even more challenging for schools to apply the standards correctly.

It is exciting to think that the Supreme Court may finally give direction to educators on this issue. Hopefully, they will answer important questions like whether the Tinker standard for substantial disruption applies to off-campus online misconduct and what, if any, nexus is required to impose discipline.

What should school leaders do about this issue now? School leaders in most jurisdictions should wait on the Court’s decision before making any changes to policies and procedures. Those of us who advise K-12 schools know how important the authority to discipline for off-campus, online speech can be to maintaining order in a school building and hope that the Supreme Court will agree. Until then, it is more important than ever to reach out to legal counsel for assistance in understanding what, if any, discipline can be imposed for off-campus, online incidents, including those involving Title IX. Keep reading this post for more insight and analysis of this important decision.
Continue Reading Supreme Court (Finally) Will Address School Discipline for Off-Campus, Online Student Speech

wish listIn recent weeks, I have been lucky enough to be involved in the conversation about what changes the Biden administration should make under Title IX. In addition to informal discussions with colleagues, administrators, and associations, Real Clear Investigations interviewed me for a recent piece. I discussed the pressure that many schools felt under the Obama administration as one reason the Biden team should not simply return us to the Title IX guidance of that era.

Most conversations, including the Real Clear Investigations interview and article, focus primarily on Title IX and higher education. To some extent, that makes sense. There are more Title IX incidents in higher ed. Colleges and universities have and dedicate more resources toward the process. The highest-profile cases of mishandled complaints are from the higher ed space.

But K-12 administrators have been working hard since May 6, 2020, to implement the new Title IX regulations. They are already feeling the real impacts of the new rules in the schoolhouse (whether in-person, hybrid, or virtual). I have trained thousands of administrators during the summer and fall and helped countless others write policies and respond to complaints under the new rules. I have heard time and again how much in the 2020 rules are not workable for K-12 schools. If K-12 administrators had a wish list for the Biden transition team regarding their genuine and unique concerns, what might it be? Here are the top three considerations as I see them.


Continue Reading A K-12 Holiday Wish List for The Next “New” Title IX

Over 100 self-described advocates for civil rights and student survivors of sexual assault and harassment recently signed a letter asking President-elect Joe Biden to “stop enforcement” of the new Title IX rules “as soon as [he] takes office.” As discussed elsewhere on this blog, there is an open question about whether such a quick reversal on the Title IX rules is possible. Unless done well, a fast rollback of the rules could put schools, colleges, and universities between a legal rock and a hard place. Some of the other requests in the letter face fewer barriers to implementation. Although the letter is only one source in a crowded discussion about what the Biden administration should do concerning Title IX and civil rights, it is an interesting addition to the discussion of what changes might be afoot under the new administration.

Continue Reading Hundreds of Organizations Ask Biden for Immediate Change in Title IX; How Realistic are the Demands?

As our Franczek colleagues previously reported, under Illinois law, Illinois employers—including schools, colleges, and universities—must train all employees on sexual harassment in employment by December 31, 2020. We also recommend training for all staff by year-end on changes required by the new Title IX regulations. (Yes, despite the recent election, we expect the new regs to remain part of our lives for some time.) If your school, college, or university has not trained employees already, it’s not too late to comply! We offer a training package that can quickly, easily, and—most importantly—effectively train your staff on required and recommended topics. Contact us to obtain training resources from the team you know and trust for Title IX compliance.

Continue Reading Complete Your Required Sexual Harassment Training for Illinois Educational Employees by December 31

Educational institutions across the country are receiving complaints and reports of sex-based misconduct triggering the use of the new Title IX regulations. We have heard from many Title IX administrators that they are seeking ways to simplify the complicated decision-making process required under the new Title IX regulations when a report or compTreelaint is

As a Presidential candidate, Joe Biden promised that, if elected, he would put a “quick end” to the Trump administration’s 2020 Title IX rule on sexual harassment. Now, Biden is the projected winner of the 2020 Presidential election.  What does that mean for Title IX and, most importantly, for the schools, colleges, and universities that must comply with it? The Trump administration used rulemaking to update Title IX, not the more-easily discardable informal guidance used by the Obama administration. Unwinding this complicated new system will be challenging, and doing it in a way that protects the educational institutions who must comply with the law is essential. This post contains key questions and answers for school leaders about what the election results mean for Title IX.

Continue Reading What Comes Next? Title IX Under a Biden Presidency

When it issued its final Title IX regulations in May 2020, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights said in the preamble to the rules that it would not enforce the final rules retroactively. It repeated that position in a blog post on August 5, 2020, saying unequivocally that “the Rule governs how schools must respond to sexual harassment that allegedly occurs on or after August 14, 2020.” Schools, colleges, and universities rightfully understood that they should use their old Title IX procedures to address conduct occurring before August 14, 2020.

A recent court decision from the Northern District of New York has called that understanding of the new regulations into serious doubt. The court refused to grant OCR any real deference on whether educational institutions should use new Title IX procedures for pre-August 14 conduct. There are some critical features of the case that schools, colleges, and universities can rely on to support using old Title IX procedures for conduct that occurred before the effective date of the new rules. But there is no question that the decision increases the risk of legal challenges by respondents against their schools for using old procedures in ongoing or new cases. Educational institutions should work with legal counsel to address whether the court’s decision necessitates changes to the processing of existing or future complaints under Title IX.
Continue Reading Are the New Title IX Regulations Retroactive? One Court Says Yes

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.
Continue Reading The Best Things in Life: Free Title IX Training Resources for Rules Compliance

The new Title IX regulations are now in effect and require school districts to train separate administrators to perform the roles of Title IX Coordinator, Investigator, Decision-Makers (initial and appellate), and informal resolution facilitators. Franczek P.C.’s training package allows compliance for the entire Title IX Team of a school or district for one low flat fee. Contact us at TitleIX@Franczek.com for more information on our competitive training and other Title IX compliance packages.

However, we understand the hardship that the Title IX requirements place on schools and districts during this time. We recognize that many school districts and schools will not train their entire Title IX Teams soon. Accordingly, we are offering the following general sessions for individual members of the Title IX Team on Friday, October 30, 2020:

If October 30 is not convenient for your team, contact TitleIX@Franczek.com. We have broad flexibility to offer make-up sessions that fit your schedule.

Information on each session, pricing for individual sessions, and registration links are below. Discounts are available for larger groups; contact us at TitleIX@Franczek.com for more information on group rates.
Continue Reading Title IX Basic and Role Training for K-12 Administrators – October 30, 2020

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.

Continue Reading OCR Clarifies VAWA “Big Five” Definitions Under Title IX, Warranting Revised Procedures