Readers of the blog know that I recently presented at the ATIXA West Coast Conference in San Francisco, California. My presentation was on Title IX and employee rights—an issue I realized when I worked at OCR that many institutions were not thinking about as much as they should. It was a great experience to share my thoughts on the subject with a room full of engaged Title IX and HR administrators from K-12 and higher education institutions. Among other topics, we discussed policy issues, tenure and academic freedom concerns, and unique retaliation issues in cases involving employees. I know not everyone was able to make it out to San Francisco, so I wanted to share some highlights of the presentation here. My colleague Emily Tulloch and I will also present a complimentary 30-minute webinar on this topic on December 10, during which we will address these issues more thoroughly. We hope you will join in on the conversation then! For now, keep reading for some of the key points. Continue Reading Title IX and Employee Rights: What Every K-12 and Higher Ed Title IX Coordinator Needs to Know

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.

Continue Reading “No Means No” is Not Enough—New Illinois Law a Reminder of the Nuances Required for K-12 Sex Education on Consent

My Partner Bill Pokorny and I are getting excited about our upcoming trip to the Bay Area for the 2019 ATIXA West Coast Annual Conference. We are particularly thrilled to have been asked to be featured speakers at the conference! We will present on Title IX Employee Rights: The Hidden Risks Every Administrator Should Know. Here is a summary of our presentation:  Continue Reading ATIXA West Coast Conference Here We Come! Franczek Title IX Attorneys Featured Speakers at Upcoming Title IX Conference

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on October 8 in three closely watched cases addressing whether Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination “because of … sex,” covers discrimination based on LGBT status. Commentators have recognized that these decisions may have important implications for Title IX, which prohibits discrimination “on the basis of sex” in education programs and activities receiving federal funds. As with Title VII, it is currently unsettled whether Title IX protects LGBT individuals. And courts interpreting Title IX often rely on decisions interpreting Title VII in reaching their decisions. In the oral argument in one of the cases, Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, questions by the Supreme Court Justices gave us even more reason to believe the case will impact the interpretation of Title IX as applied to transgender students. Continue Reading Can a Transgender Female Student Compete on a Girls’ Sports Team? Supreme Court Justices Address the Question in LGBT Employment Case

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

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

We were all anxiously expecting Title IX regulations in September, and yet here we are on October 1 with no sign of new regs in sight. Whether you are a newly appointed Title IX Coordinator or investigator looking for a quick primer on Title IX and your school’s responsibilities, a seasoned administrator wondering what OCR’s position is now on handling requests to keep sexual harassment reports confidential, or just confused about what guidance documents are still in effect at OCR, there is no better time for a refresher on what laws and guidance matter now for OCR investigations on Title IX. Here is a quick summary on what you should know and where to find it. Continue Reading So Much For Title IX Regs in September: A Quick Reference and Summary For the Meantime

You need not work in a college, university, or elementary or secondary school to know that Title IX has become one of the most important and evolving areas of education law in recent years.

Since its inception in 1972, the impact of the law has morphed beyond just ensuring gender equity in athletics to governing some of the most significant issues in the culture wars. From sexual harassment and assault and sex-based bullying to transgender student facility access and athletic parity, keeping up with the changes to the law requires significant care.

Franczek P.C. has consistently covered major changes to Title IX, including proposed changes to regulations, changes in guidance from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, and notable lawsuits from across the country on emerging trends under the law for decades through its client alerts. These alerts cover a variety of labor and employment and education topics (sign up here if you haven’t already).

But Franczek’s attorneys recognize the potential benefit of a dedicated online space for a robust, focused discussion on Title IX issues in the educational sphere. The goal of providing that space for firm clients and friends has now culminated in the release of Franczek’s “Title IX Insights” blog.

Franczek P.C. has been a trailblazer in thought leadership in the K-12 and higher-educational space for 25 years. Almost all of the firm’s 31 attorneys represent schools, colleges, and universities for some or all of their legal practice. Of those attorneys, 18 attorneys offer combined centuries of experience representing and regulating schools, colleges, and universities in all aspects of Title IX law. Find out more about our team here.

As a full-service education and labor and employment boutique, Franczek attorneys are uniquely able to partner with our clients at every stage of the Title IX compliance process, from counseling on day-to-day matters to robust defense of lawsuits and administrative complaints. We help educational institutions of all shapes and sizes enact legally compliant Title IX policies and procedures, provide interactive training on Title IX fundamentals and investigation techniques, and defend clients before OCR and the courts.

We look forward to this conversation with you in the days, weeks, and years to come. Please let us know if there are any topics you would like to see covered in the blog!

Amy, Emily, and Jackie