WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos launched new resources to help students and schools understand the protections provided by the Department’s historic regulation on Title IX, as the Rule takes full effect today. The Rule, announced on May 6, 2020, following years of stakeholder input, public comment and careful deliberation, extends many new protections against sexual harassment, and strongly safeguards the rights of all students, including the right to due process. The Department also launched a new website that provides a one-stop resource for this key information, including how to file a complaint, an overview of the Rule’s protections for survivors, and a detailed webinar on how schools can fully implement and uphold the new provisions in the law.
“Today marks a new era in the storied history of Title IX in which the right to equal access to education required by law is truly protected for all students,” said Secretary DeVos. “Every student should know that their school will be held accountable for responding to incidents of sexual misconduct and that it must treat all students fairly. This rule, as courts have recently noted, restores balance to the scales of justice in our schools, ending one of the most infamous and damaging overreaches of the previous administration.”
The new website will serve as an online hub for information and resources students can use to understand their rights under Title IX and what the new Rule means for them. It also provides a robust fact sheet for students that dispels myths and falsehoods about the Rule. For instance, the Rule expressly prohibits students from directly cross-examining one another, and it requires schools to provide support services to students, even if a student chooses not to move forward with a formal complaint process. The website is also home to information on how courts have opined on the new Rule and the importance of due process and includes statements from lawmakers, respected attorneys, and other major thought leaders on the importance of due process for all students.
To access the website, please click here
Background on the Title IX Rule:
Since the beginning of her tenure, Secretary DeVos has worked to ensure all students have the freedom to learn in a safe environment, free from discrimination. The regulation carries the full force of law, unlike the previous administration’s much-criticized “Dear Colleague” letter on the topic that denied students basic due process protections and led to courts frequently overturning school decisions, subjecting survivors to further trauma. With the benefit of robust public participation in the rulemaking process, the Title IX regulation reflects Secretary DeVos’ commitment to ensuring that every person’s claim of sexual misconduct is taken seriously while ensuring the fair treatment of every person accused of such misconduct.
Key provisions of the Department of Education’s new Title IX 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 incidents of sexual harassment
- 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
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