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Education attorney, TFA alum, Paralympian, swimmer, mom.

In March, the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington ruled against a school district in favor of a student with intellectual disabilities, who was awarded $500,000 by a jury based on the district’s failure to address repeated acts of peer sexual harassment against the student. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that the school district violated the student’s due process and equal protection rights, violated Title IX, violated the Washington Law against Discrimination, and was negligent. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff on her due process, equal protection, and negligence claims, and the court denied the district’s motion to set the verdict aside. 

The case, Berg v. Bethel School District, is instructive on a range of issues relating to sexual misconduct involving students with disabilities, including a school district’s duty to protect a student with disabilities from sexual harassment even when the student does not explicitly object to the misconduct 

Continue Reading Can a School District Be Liable for Student-on-Student Sexual Harassment Even When a Student Does Not Explicitly Object? Federal District Court Says Yes

We recently launched a multi-part series where we are providing a refresher on the key players on the Title IX team under the current 2020 regulations. While we wait for the Biden administration to publicly release their proposed regulations, remember that the 2020 regulations are still in effect and will be for some time to come. With that in mind, we want to ensure that everyone is up to speed on the current roles and responsibilities of the members of their team. 

In a previous post, we covered the roles and responsibilities of the Title IX Coordinator. Today, we’re focusing our spotlight on the Title IX Investigator. As you know, Title IX Investigators play a crucial role in your institution’s formal grievance process. Investigators are responsible for conducting fair and unbiased investigations and creating thorough investigation reports summarizing all relevant evidence that will help Decision-Makers make final determinations.  

Continue Reading Title IX Refresher Series Part II: The Title IX Investigator

In December, the Biden Administration announced that it plans to release new Title IX draft rules to the public by April 2022. (See our previous post on the announcement here.) Last week, the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) provided an update on the latest step in this process.  

On Friday, OCR reported on its blog that the Department of Education sent the draft of the proposed Title IX amendments to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). At this stage, the draft amendments—known as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)—are not yet available for public viewing. An internal review will be conducted by OIRA and the Department of Justice to analyze the costs and benefits of the proposed rules. Following the internal review process, the Department of Education will publish the draft rules in the Federal Register, where members of the public will have the opportunity to submit their comments on the proposed regulations. While the FAQs on the OIRA review process state that the process may take up to 90 days, the Department of Education may still be on track to issue the proposed amendments in April depending on how long the OIRA review takes.  

Continue Reading OCR Provides Update on Rulemaking Process for Title IX

In a highly anticipated decision earlier this month, OCR reaffirmed the broad discretion that religious institutions may have under the religious exemption in Title IX.  

Title IX provides that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” However, Title IX allows religious educational institutions, including those accepting federal funds, to claim a religious exemption to the extent that an application of a Title IX provision is inconsistent with the tenets of the religious organization that “controls” the institution.  

Continue Reading OCR Dismisses LGBTQ+ Complaint Based on Title IX Religious Exemption

In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed that Title IX provides adequate notice to federal funding recipients of their responsibility to respond to known sexual harassment if they have control over the context and harasser, even when the harasser is a third party 

The Court of Appeals ruled that Millersville University, a public institution in Pennsylvania, could be liable for deliberate indifference to known sexual harassment by a non-student guest. The case arose from the murder of a female student in her dorm room by her non-student boyfriend. The non-student’s months-long pattern of abusive behavior leading up to the murder was well-known and reported to individuals on campus who had some authority to take corrective action, including a campus police officer who failed to file an incident report involving the non-student until after the student’s murder. While the Deputy and Area Title IX Coordinators received actual notice, they did not forward any of the reports to the Title IX Coordinator as required by their policy.  

Continue Reading Third Circuit Finds that Deliberate Indifference to Third-Party Conduct May Lead to Title IX Liability

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

Franczek’s Education Law Team is pleased to offer Title IX Compliance training to prepare your team for the 2021-2022 school year. As our trainees have come to expect from the Franczek team, we will engage participants with the material through live polling, discussion, theoretical problems, and role-playing scenarios. If you are interested in Title IX training scheduled specifically for your school or district, please contact TitleIX@franczek.com.

Continue Reading New Staff or New Roles? Franczek P.C. Offers Updated Title IX Training for K-12 Administrators

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