June 2021 Title IX Updates

IOA Submits Comment to the U.S. Department of Education

In March 2021, President Biden issued an executive order directing the U.S. Secretary of Education, Miquel Cardona, to review the changes made to Title IX under the Trump administration.

For multiple days during the week of 7 June, the U.S. Department of Education held a virtual Title IX Public Hearing to gather information from survivors, students, parents, faculty, school staff, administrators, and other community members about the steps the Department can take to ensure that schools are providing students with safe learning environments free from discrimination and sexual harassment while implementing fair processes. The public comments will inform the Department’s review of its regulations, guidance, and other agency actions under Title IX. In addition to oral statements at the public hearing, the Department welcomed the submission of written comments.

IOA's Government & Policy Committee  with the support of IOA leadership submitted a written comment highlighting the important and unique role organizational ombuds play on many campuses by providing confidential, informal, impartial, and independent assistance to all college and university community members including complainants, respondents, and the administration, writing:

“It is essential that parties have someone on campus with whom they can discuss matters confidentially without triggering an obligation to report. Parties need to know that there is a confidential, reliable resource who can provide guidance on the situation, the process, and options for reporting and/or resolution so they can make informed choices and take appropriate action. The organizational ombuds is essential in fulfilling that role.”

IOA’s comment acknowledged that the 2020 Amendments have been highly controversial but focused specifically on the notice standard and record-keeping, urging the department to retain these provisions:

“The standard embodied in the current regulations both fairly applies the law and, by focusing on the question of whether an official has authority to institute corrective measures, prevents properly structured programs from being considered mandatory reporters.” 

After the hearing and once its review of the current Title IX regulations is complete, the Department anticipates it will begin a formal proposed rule-making process to rewrite the Title IX rules.  At this time, the Title IX regulations as amended in 2020 remain in effect.

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