An article by Franczek’s Title IX team—partners Kaitlin Atlas, Amy Dickerson, Jennifer Smith, attorney Emily Tulloch, and law clerk Jenny Lee*—was published in the Winter 2022 Risk Management issue of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials (IASBO) UPDATE magazine. The article, titled “Title IX Investigations: How Do You Manage Complaints?”, featured the authors’ top
This week, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark legislation signed into law on June 23 as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. Consisting of a mere 37 words—“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”—Title IX transformed the landscape of gender equity in education, expanding opportunities and ensuring fairness for women. We first saw Title IX make substantial changes in the realm of athletics, but it has since made significant strides in addressing sexual harassment on campuses across the country.
Continue Reading Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Title IX
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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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
We’ve had a lot going on.
COVID-19. School reopening. Racial equity issues. And the cherry on top? Those Title IX Sexual Harassment regulations that we’ve been digging out from under since May 6.
With all that going on, I’d forgive you for feeling a bit like one of my favorite characters from Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson,…
Cyberbullying is nothing new. A majority of teens have experienced the phenomenon and college campuses certainly are not immune. Just because something is common does not make it simple to deal with, however. And this is especially true with cyberbullying when it is sex-based, because the complications of Title IX come into play. What are the key Title IX requirements to keep in mind when faced with a sex-based cyberbullying complaint?
Continue Reading Do Virtual Sticks and Stones Also Break Bones? Addressing Cyberbullying Under Title IX
Last week, at an excellent and well-attended ATIXA conference at which I had the honor of speaking, ATIXA leadership reported hearing hints that the U.S. Department of Education intends to drop the new Title IX regulations at or near Thanksgiving. Why would they possibly do that? Because, as some speculate, we Americans are notoriously inattentive when we are stuffed with turkey and enjoying the company of our family and friends. If you’re going to release a cannonball of a regulation, the holidays are a great time to attempt to minimize the splash if ED wished to do so. Well, guess what? That prophecy looks like it might have some teeth.
Continue Reading Ready Or Not, Here They Come? Title IX Regulations Inching Toward Publication
What do many of the highest-profile sexual assault cases in our country have in common? Whether it is the high-profile case involving a Stanford swimmer or the contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, we have seen the evolving understanding of “consent” take center stage in many of the most notable recent cases.
Consent education has evolved over time from the rhetoric of “no means no,” with its focus on express refusal as a precursor to stopping sexual conduct, to “yes means yes,” which requires affirmative consent to continue with sexual activity. Advocates argue that sexual education around consent must reflect these changes and nuances.
In Illinois, legislators responded to this call by passing Public Act 101-0579 (which began as House Bill 3550) in late August. The law amends the School Code to require Illinois public schools that offer sex education in grades six through twelve to provide lessons on the issue of consent. Training under the law does not necessarily check all the boxes required by Title IX, however. Read on for key takeaways for school leaders.…
In our recent training on Title IX Foundations and Investigation Techniques here at Franczek P.C., we discussed that schools often use informal processes for certain types of sex discrimination complaints. Whether some concerns are less serious (verbal bullying versus sexual assault, for instance) or there are perceived benefits of having administrators familiar with a particular population of students conduct investigations (e.g., deans of students), there certainly are many conceivably appropriate reasons for having different paths for different types of Title IX complaints. From my experience investigating Title IX complaints at OCR, schools frequently do this and doing so does not always create a Title IX concern. But a recent court decision from the higher education context provides some important reminders for schools at all levels of best practices for such informal paths to Title IX compliance.
Continue Reading Recent Court Decision A Reminder of Need for Extra Care with Informal Title IX Processes