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

After almost one-and-a-half years since issuing its original proposed rule, the U.S. Department of Education has issued final Title IX regulations effective August 14, 2020. Although analyzing the changes will take some time, what follows is a brief initial summary of some of the main changes in the final rule. Please join us for a complimentary webinar breaking down the new rule on Monday, May 11, 2020, at 11:30 a.m. We will be working on providing you more insights, as well, in the coming days.
Continue Reading They’re Finally Here: U.S. Department of Education Issues Title IX Regulations

Despite efforts by schools and advocacy organizations, state attorneys general, and members of Congress and the Senate, the Department of Education’s proposed Title IX rules reportedly have cleared Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review and sources say that the final rules are coming—soon. Although the timing of the release during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis is far from ideal, employees with Title IX responsibilities may be able to use some of the well-documented time lost in productivity on normal day-to-day tasks during this crisis to prepare for the coming changes. In addition to signing up for our Franczek blogs and alerts so that you can receive our insights on the rules if and when they are released, we recommend that schools, colleges, and universities do the following four tasks now to prepare for the impending regulatory changes.
Continue Reading Lemons into Lemonade: 4 Coronavirus Shutdown Tasks to Prepare for Title IX Rules

With guest editor Kendra Yoch

As an Office for Civil Rights (OCR) investigator, I was surprised by the number of times I saw the same issues again and again in Title IX sexual misconduct investigations. Nowhere was this more evident than with confidentiality issues. Three of the most common repeat confidentiality concerns in Title IX investigations are the failure to adequately describe the impact confidentiality may have on an institution’s investigation, misunderstandings about the information that can be shared with a reporting party after resolution, and the assumption that OCR will not have access to identifying information during an investigation. Let’s unpack these mistakes so that you can avoid them in your next Title IX investigation.
Continue Reading Learn From These Three Confidentiality Mistakes Before Your Next Title IX Investigation

Texas – road sign

We all know how important it is for responsible employees in educational institutions to report up the chain when they learn of sexual misconduct against a student. But the stakes for noncompliance just grew in Texas, where lawmakers recently passed legislation allowing jail time in addition to institutional penalties for responsible employees who fail to report as required by law. It seems like a good reason for a refresher on the rules for responsible employees and some tips for how to foster compliance at your institution, don’t you think?
Continue Reading Jail Time for Responsible Employees Under Title IX? In Texas, Maybe

With the start of the school year well underway and the many things to remember and think about that come with it, it can be easy to forget some of the most essential elements of Title IX compliance. For example, when is the last time you checked to ensure that employees who are involved in Title IX investigations are clearly identified and appropriately trained on the requirements of Title IX? We all assume these ducks are in a row, but we’ve seen OCR find issues with these responsibilities time and again in Title IX complaints. The real rub: even if you handled the specific complaint that led to an OCR investigation perfectly, if your notice and training requirements are lacking you might still find yourself staring down months or even years of OCR monitoring for a procedural violation. What can you do now to protect against that dreaded outcome?
Continue Reading Recommended Trainings for Title IX Coordinators and Investigators