Every couple of years, the U.S. Department of Education releases new regulations under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX is the federal law that strictly prohibits any type of sex or gender discrimination at any educational institution that receives federal financial funding. Recently, new regulations for Title IX have been published, which will go into effect on August 14, 2020. These regulations carry the full force of the law and provide guidance to educational institutions as to how they should respond to accusations of sexual discrimination or misconduct. This new set of regulations carries many notable changes that both educators and students alike should be aware of regarding the criminal consequences for violating them.
Biggest Changes to Title IX Regulations
The new regulations will be in effect in just a matter of weeks and educational institutions, especially colleges and universities, must change their policies and procedures to comply with the new regulations. The 2,000-page set of regulations contains many changes to how institutions must handle allegations of sexual harassment, which is a form of sex discrimination. Some of the biggest changes include:
Sexual harassment has been defined. The regulations now specifically give a definition for sexual harassment, whereas prior regulations did not. The regulations define sexual harassment as one or more of the following: (1) quid pro quo harassment (2) any conduct that is unwelcome and that a reasonable person would find so severe, pervasive and offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to education; or (3) any instance of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, or dating violence.
Schools can choose their standard of evidence. Institutions now have the option to choose between the preponderance of the evidence or clear and convincing evidence to examine sexual harassment complaints. The only requirement is that the same standard must be used for both faculty and student cases. Prior regulations required a preponderance of the evidence, which means it is more likely than not that a violation occurred.
The scope of jurisdiction for cases is open for consideration. The new regulations state that schools are only required to investigate cases of misconduct that occur within educational programs or activities. The regulations also note that whether the behavior occurs within an educational program or activity depends on whether or not the institution had “substantial control” over the accused party and the surrounding context. However, there is no definition as to what substantial control means or how to go about figuring it out, although it does note that sororities and fraternities do fall within a university’s substantial control.
More rights are given to the parties, specifically, the respondent. Both parties are entitled to a written notice of the allegations with sufficient details of what is known at the time and with enough time to allow the respondent to prepare a response prior to the initial interview. Schools are also required to provide supportive measures to the complainant, even if a formal complaint is never filed.
Parties can now cross-examine one another through an advisor. One of the biggest rights awarded to both parties is the right to a live hearing and the opportunity to cross-examine one another. Obviously, this can be a sensitive topic, so this will be done through advisors. If a party does not hire an advisor, the school will be required to provide an advisor for the student, but the advisor does not have to be an attorney. In addition, the single-investigator model has been banned and a person who collects evidence is now not permitted to also be involved in resolving complaints.
Contact a Rolling Meadows, IL Criminal Defense Lawyer
The new regulations explained above serve as an important guidebook for colleges and universities across the country, but they also serve as a way to inform students of their rights if they are ever accused of sexual harassment or misconduct. Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law will help you form a defense against any sexual assault or misconduct charges you may be facing, along with accompanying you to any hearings you may be attending at your college or university. To schedule a free consultation with our skilled Arlington Heights, IL sexual misconduct attorney, call our office today at 847-253-3400.