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New Title IX Rule in Effect

With so many of you grappling with various pandemic issues and the opening (or not) of school, you may not be aware that the new Title IX rule is now in effect as of August 14. The U.S. Department of Education lists the following key provisions of the new regulation:

  • Defines sexual harassment to include sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking as unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex.
  • Provides a consistent, legally sound framework on which survivors, the accused and schools can rely.
  • Requires schools to offer clear, accessible options for any person to report sexual harassment.
  • Empowers survivors to make decisions about how a school responds to sexual harassment incidents.
  • Requires schools to offer survivors supportive measures, such as class or dorm reassignments or no-contact orders.
  • Protects K-12 students by requiring elementary and secondary schools to respond promptly when any school employee has notice of sexual harassment.
  • Holds colleges responsible for off-campus sexual harassment at houses owned or under the control of school-sanctioned fraternities and sororities.
  • Restores fairness on college and university campuses by upholding a student’s right to written notice of allegations, the right to an advisor and the right to submit, cross-examine and challenge evidence at a live hearing.
  • Shields survivors from having to come face-to-face with the accused during a hearing and from answering questions posed personally by the accused.
  • Requires schools to select one of two standards of evidence, the preponderance of the evidence standard or the clear and convincing evidence standard and to apply the selected standard evenly to proceedings for all students and employees, including faculty.
  • Provides "rape shield" protections and ensures survivors are not required to divulge any medical, psychological or similar privileged records.
  • Requires schools to offer an equal right of appeal for both parties to a Title IX proceeding.  
  • Gives schools flexibility to use technology to conduct Title IX investigations and hearings remotely.
  • Protects students and faculty by prohibiting schools from using Title IX in a manner that deprives students and faculty of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Many of these changes encompass how schools are to respond to allegations of sexual harassment, namely through the grievance process. Additional guidance, information and free training resources may be found at the Department of Education’s new website: Title IX - Protecting All Students.

Terri Thomas

Legal Services

Terri Thomas serves as Director of Legal Services for OPSRC. Ms. Thomas is an attorney practicing exclusively in the area of Oklahoma school law, with a primary focus on rural and smaller school districts. Prior to OPSRC, she served as legal counsel for the Organization of Rural Oklahoma Schools (OROS).

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