Critical Elements for a Compliant Title IX Sexual Harassment Procedure

Franczek P.C.
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Franczek P.C.

Well, we’ve made it almost six weeks since the new Title IX Sexual Harassment regulations went into effect. And I’m happy to see that so many of our clients and friends are making good progress with revising and approving policies and completing mandated training. You may be wondering what should be next on your checklist. My recommendation: Spruce up your administrative procedures or regulations. You need to be ready to answer a question from OCR or a court about where they can find your detailed process for investigating and adjudicating Title IX Sexual Harassment complaints. For many institutions, the answer will not be the formal Title IX Sexual Harassment policy. If you do not have an administrative procedure in place, contact us for assistance. Keep reading to learn more about this requirement and what the procedures should include.

What Must be in Your Policy?

The new Title IX regs require you to include a very few things in your Board or other institution policy. What are the policy requirements?

  • Your Notice of Nondiscrimination.  The policy must state that you do not discriminate based on sex in your education programs or activities. It must also say that Title IX requires you and the Title IX regulations not to discriminate in such manner, including (for higher ed institution) in admission and (for all) in employment.
  • Title IX Coordinator Information.  The Title IX Sexual Harassment policy must include specific contact information for the Title IX Coordinator, including name/title, mailing address, telephone number, and email address.
  • Where to Go For Help. The policy must also state that inquiries about the application of Title IX and the Title IX regulations to the school may contact your Title IX Coordinator, OCR, or both.

Of course, many institutions will include much more in their policies, and for good reason. The policy is the place where most people will first look to understand their rights and responsibilities. But as we all have seen, policies also take time to be crafted and approved. Committees may be involved, boards may need to sign off–all of this means it’s more challenging to make changes as necessary from time to time to improve your process. For this reason, most policies are relatively short and to the point.

What About All The Other Requirements?

You probably know that–thanks to the Title IX regs–educational institutions must now comply with many more procedural requirements when investigating and adjudicating Title IX complaints than those required to be in the policy. Where do you keep all that information?

We recommend that you keep the additional requirements in administrative procedures. The administrative procedures can be a written document–like the Illinois Association for School Boards’ Title IX administrative procedures. Or, as is the case for many higher education institutions, your procedures may just be a copilation of website pages that only exist online. Either option works.

What are the critical requirements for a compliant Title IX procedure?

  1. All The Small Things. Make sure the procedure addresses all the little requirements of the new Title IX rules. Examples include specific timeframes for responding to complaints and conditions from the regulations for things like sharing directly-related evidence or the investigative report with the parties. For K-12 institutions using PRESS, we recommend customizations to the procedures; contact us for more information.
  2. Don’t Forget to Post. You must notify your students, parents, employees, and other community members of your procedures. The best way to do so is on your nondiscrimination or Title IX website. As always, we can provide language for your website to ensure compliance with this and other mandates of the new Title IX regulations. We also recommend that you give copies of policies and procedures to Title IX Complainants, Respondents, and (for minors) their parents during any report or investigation.
  3. Notify Your Team. Make sure that your team knows what resources are available. Often when I was at OCR people would not know that administrative procedures were there. With the new requirement that they be publicly available (in other words, online), this seems less likely. But make sure your team knows where to find the procedures and how they work with your policies.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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