April 28, 2022
The U.S. Department of Education plans to issue its proposed Title IX regulation governing how colleges and K-12 schools should investigate and punish sexual violence in May, and not this month as it said previously.
Catherine Lhamon, who leads the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, said in December the agency intended to make public this month its draft rule on Title IX, the cornerstone federal law banning sex-based discrimination and sexual misconduct in educational settings.
But with April drawing to a close, a department spokesperson told Higher Ed Dive that to ensure the agency “is able to devote thoughtful and appropriate attention to these issues,” its new timeline to release the draft rule is next month.
Observers attuned to Title IX-related issues suspected the Education Department might delay its regulatory proposal as it had scheduled meetings with various entities through mid-May to discuss it.
The draft rule represents a rewrite of one proffered by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, which took effect in August 2020. The DeVos rule created a judiciary-like method of evaluating reports of sexual violence on college campuses, notably allowing an accused student and their accuser to cross-examine each other through an adviser of their choosing.
It also shrank the scope of cases colleges need to investigate, prompting ire from sexual assault survivors and their advocates who thought the regulation licensed colleges to disregard these problems.
DeVos, however, in issuing the rule responded to a chorus of accusations from due process activists. They argued the Education Department for years had pressured colleges to find accused students responsible for sexual assaults, under the threat of revoking institutions’ funding for not complying with Title IX regulations. This in turn disregarded accused students’ rights, they said.