Photo of Jackie Gharapour Wernz

Attorney representing educational institutions in a wide range of education and employment law matters.

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

clockOn September 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released new technical assistance for elementary and secondary schools concerning COVID-19. The document, Questions and Answers for K-12 Public Schools in the Current COVID-19 Environment, provides OCR’s perspective on schools’ obligations under civil rights laws as schools continue to decide how to provide educational services during the pandemic. Notably for our purposes, OCR addresses how schools should handle Title IX complaints during the COVID-19 crisis. Notably, the Q&A indicates that OCR will defer to educational institutions as to whether there is a good reason to delay Title IX processes because of COVID-19. Such delays should only be temporary and should balance the interests of promptness, fairness to the parties, and accuracy of adjudications.

Continue Reading OCR Q&A Addresses Title IX, K-12 Schools, and COVID-19

A local news source from New Haven, Connecticut, reported that the New Haven Public Schools and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights have reached a tentative agreement on their current transgender athlete dispute. The deal reportedly will allow transgender athletes to continue to play on athletics teams that coincide with their gender

Well, we’ve made it almost six weeks since the new Title IX Sexual Harassment regulations went into effect. And I’m happy to see that so many of our clients and friends are making good progress with revising and approving policies and completing mandated training. You may be wondering what should be next on your checklist. My recommendation: Spruce up your administrative procedures or regulations. You need to be ready to answer a question from OCR or a court about where they can find your detailed process for investigating and adjudicating Title IX Sexual Harassment complaints. For many institutions, the answer will not be the formal Title IX Sexual Harassment policy. If you do not have an administrative procedure in place, contact us for assistance. Keep reading to learn more about this requirement and what the procedures should include.
Continue Reading Critical Elements for a Compliant Title IX Sexual Harassment Procedure

On September 8, 2020, an Education Dive article quoted me about two recent letters from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) on the impact on Title IX of this year’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on sexual orientation discrimination in employment. OCR’s position: Title IX, like Title VII, now protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. But that does not mean that schools can grant transgender students equal access to sex-segregated facilities or sports teams, says OCR. Media reports suggest the Department’s stated approaches are “totally at odds”–but are they? Here is a summary of the letters and why they seem pretty consistent, after all.
Continue Reading Is OCR’s New Approach to Trans Rights in Schools Really Inconsistent? Here’s Why It’s Not