Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Education released proposed Title IX regulations that would dramatically redefine schools’ obligations related to allegations of sexual misconduct. The proposal would also require significant changes to the processes through which schools investigate and resolve such allegations.
The proposed regulations do not go into effect immediately. The public has 60 days to submit comments on them, and the Department of Education must respond to such comments before the regulations become binding. However, schools should immediately begin to consider how they would need to revise their sexual misconduct policies and procedures to address the new proposed requirements. Schools and other interested parties should also carefully review the proposed regulations and consider taking advantage of the public comment period to impact the text of the regulations before they are finalized.
Here are five of the most impactful potential changes stemming from the proposed regulations:
- Because of changes to key definitions and reporting requirements, schools would have more narrow obligations in terms of the allegations they are required to investigate.
- New procedural protections would be required. For example, the parties would be given an opportunity to cross-examine each other through an adviser or lawyer, subject to certain “rape shield protections.” Also, live hearings would be required in almost all cases before the imposition of discipline.
- The single-investigator model would be prohibited and the final decision-maker would need to be someone other than the investigator or Title IX coordinator.
- Informal resolution, such as mediation, would be an option for a broader array of allegations.
- Schools would be held to a less stringent standard when investigated by the Department of Education for compliance concerns.
You can read the full text of the proposed regulations here. For additional information, please contact us or your regular Parker Poe contact.