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Attorney advising and representing K-12, community college, and higher education clients.

As a presidential candidate, now-President Biden promised that he would put a “quick end” to the Trump administration’s 2020 Title IX rules. Aiming to keep that promise, the Department of Education announced  its intention to release proposed amendments to Title IX’s implementing regulations by April 2022, a month earlier than initially expected. While the April 2022 date is not binding, it signals the Biden administration’s intent to start the lengthy rulemaking process as soon as possible.  
Continue Reading Biden Administration to Propose New Title IX Rules by April 2022

Governor Pritzker recently signed into law Public Act 102-0466 (House Bill 3223), which makes changes and additions to the School Code to support students who are parents, expectant parents, or victims of domestic or sexual violence. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2025, except that several provisions noted below must be in place a year earlier. With changes to the Title IX regulations expected before 2025, how this new law will align with schools’ obligations under Title IX – or if additional amendments to this State law will be made prior to 2024 – remains to be seen. We will monitor developments to assist schools with implementation as we get closer to the effective date. We have outlined some of the highlights of the new law, including changes related to disciplinary hearings, home instruction, excused absences, and new policies, procedures, and trainings. 

Continue Reading Illinois Passes New Legislation to Support Students Who Are Parents, Expectant Parents, or Victims of Domestic or Sexual Violence

Live hearings—the hallmark procedure and one of the most substantial changes under the 2020 Title IX regulations for higher education institutions—may be a thing of the past. This a possible result of the end of the “Suppression Rule” brought about by the recent court decision in Victim Rights Law Center v. Cardona and the announcement from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) confirming OCR will not enforce the Suppression Rule. The Suppression Rule prohibited decisionmakers at higher education institutions from considering any statements of parties or witnesses that were not subject to cross examination and therefore not tested for credibility, with potentially draconian results.

Continue Reading Are Title IX Live Hearings A Thing of the Past?

Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued new, anticipated guidance concerning the Department’s current regulations related to sexual harassment. The guidance, titled Questions and Answers on the Title IX Regulations on Sexual Harassmentclarifies how OCR interprets schools’ existing obligations under the 2020 amendments. The Q&A addresses 67 questions covering a variety of topics ranging from general obligations under Title IX, sexual harassment, formal complaints, and participation in the grievance process to supportive measures, time frames, live hearings, informal resolution, and retaliation. The Q&A also includes an appendix containing example policy provisions addressing particular regulatory requirements.  
Continue Reading OCR Issues Q&A on Title IX Regulations on Sexual Harassment

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a decision allowing transgender high school students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identities. The High Court’s rebuff means the lower court decision stands. The tacit endorsement solidifies an understanding of TitleIX supported by other courts, including the only other federal appellate court to address the question. The decision is also notable because of the new composition of the Court, with the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett. The case offered the Court an opportunity to quickly narrow the holding of the recent transgender employment decision, Bostock v. Clayton County. Yet, it did not do so.   
Continue Reading Despite Change in High Court Composition, U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Challenge to Transgender Student Rights

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) replaced the 2016 Clery Act Handbook (Handbook) with the new Clery Act Appendix for FSA Handbook (Appendix). The Appendix rescinds previous ED guidance interpreting Clery Act regulations, leaving higher education institutions with 13 pages of sub-regulatory guidance. While the contents of the Appendix do not have a binding effect on institutions, the ED stated that its intent was to provide clarity regarding existing Clery Act statutory and regulatory requirements. The following Q&A addresses questions that may arise when reviewing the recent changes to Clery Act guidance.

Continue Reading Q&A: What the U.S. Department of Education’s New Clery Act Appendix Really Means for Colleges’ and Universities’ Clery Act Compliance Efforts

One of the biggest changes from the new Title IX regulations issued by the Department of Education last week is that, beginning in August 2020, OCR’s complaint findings will be based on standards very similar to those used by federal courts for decades in lawsuits for money damages under Title IX. The U.S. Supreme Court set forth the standards in Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District, 524 U.S. 274 (1998), and Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 526 U.S. 629 (1999). Those cases included the fundamental ideas that have now been codified—in modified form—in the Department’s final rule, such as the ideas that a school can only be responsible for sexual harassment that is “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit”; when it exercises “substantial control” over the harasser and the “context” of harassment; and when it has “actual knowledge” of the sexual harassment. These cases also are the root of the “deliberately indifferent” standard that OCR will now use to decide if a school has violated Title IX. What do these standards mean, and what lessons can your institution learn from the court cases in which they were created and fleshed out over the past two decades?
Continue Reading Why Your Next OCR Title IX Complaint May Feel Like A Lawsuit