In March, President Biden signed into law the Violence against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA), which Congress passed as part of the FY22 Omnibus appropriations bill. First passed in 1994 and reauthorized in 2000, 2005, 2013, and now 2022, VAWA is aimed at addressing sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence by expanding access to safety and support for survivors and increasing community-wide prevention efforts. This latest reauthorization of VAWA contains several new measures and revised or new definitions that schools and colleges should be aware of and, if needed, be prepared to implement into their policies and procedures. In this post, we will provide an in-depth overview of VAWA updates that may be relevant to your institution. 

Broadly, the 2022 VAWA reauthorizes all current VAWA grant programs until 2027; expands services and support for survivors of gender-based violence from underserved and marginalized communities, including LGBTQ+ survivors and those in rural communities; expands the criminal jurisdiction of tribal courts over non-Native perpetrators; establishes a federal civil cause of action for victims of cybercrimes; and—crucially for educational institutions—expands prevention education programs and grants for students in K-12 and higher ed. All provisions in the reauthorized VAWA are effective October 1, 2022, unless otherwise provided. 

Continue Reading VAWA Reauthorized: What Does This Mean for Your School or College?

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 release their proposed regulations soon, remember that the 2020 regulations are still in effect and will be for some time. 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. 

Today, we’re focusing our spotlight on the Title IX Decision-Maker. With the live hearing requirement for colleges and universities under the 2020 regulations, Decision-Makers play key roles in the formal grievance and appeals processes. The regulations outline three stages in which Decision-Makers play a primary role: the live hearing, the written determination, and the appeal. (Decision-Makers have slightly different responsibilities in the K-12 process, which we will also cover below.) 

Continue Reading Title IX Refresher Series Part III: Title IX Decision-Maker

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

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

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

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, recently issued a Notice of Interpretation stating that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ+ students and employees in public schools, colleges, universities, and other recipients of Department funds. This would not necessarily be big news, because the United States Supreme Court recently recognized similar rights for employees under Title IX’s sister statute, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But it is news for schools. It’s the next chapter in OCR’s ever-changing position on this important question (from vigorous enforcement under the Obama administration to the Trump administration’s flip-flop in 2017 and subsequent clarification after Bostock in 2020). And although the information ED released answered some questions, many important questions remain.
Continue Reading Unanswered Questions on OCR’s About-Face on Transgender Rights

Paper tear background with word Complaints.

It’s an all-too-common scenario these days: Students  report sexual misconduct perpetrated against other, often unnamed students. They post anonymously on Instagram. They hang letters on walls or post complaints on bulletin boards. They hold protests and speak out at board meetings. Often, the allegations are nothing more than vague references to harassment and mishandling of reports by the institution. Our Title IX Decision Tree walks you through various decision steps of the Title IX process, including those related to bystander and anonymous complaints. We also have a free flowchart that addresses responding to bystander and anonymous complaints; email us at titleix@franczek.com to request a copy. For more on how to respond to bystander and anonymous sexual harassment reports under Title IX, keep reading here.
Continue Reading Responding to Bystander and Anonymous Sexual Harassment Complaints