The debacle of the recent Title IX amendments process continues. After website glitches prematurely closed the comments period on the Federal Register for the proposed changes, the federal government has decided to reopen the comment period – but only for one day, and with little forward notice.
The decision is just the latest in a long line of controversial decisions revolving around a controversial rule change by the Department of Education. Title IX defense lawyer Joseph D. Lento has been watching things develop from the beginning.
How We Got Here: Proposed Rule Changes to Title IX
The issue deals with a long-winded regulation – the Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance regulation. Promulgated during Obama's presidency, the details of the Regulation provided wider protections for people who claimed that they were sexually assaulted or discriminated against while on a college campus.
The Trump administration's Department of Education, headed by Betsy Devos, pointed out that the Regulation came at the expense of the due process rights of accused students. They proposed a rule change that would rollback the Regulation.
Part of the process of rolling back the Regulation involves publishing the proposed rule change in the Federal Register and opening the floor to public comments for 60 days. Comments flooded in, breaking the 100,000 plateau as the deadline neared and showcasing the competing interests at the heart of Title IX. However, site complications closed the comment window a day early, just as the stream of input was at its most intense.
Reaction to the Site Shut Down
Advocacy groups from both sides of the debate decried the site glitches that prevented further comment. Organizations that advocate for sexual assault survivors were particularly adamant that the problem was just another way for the Trump administration to silence critics of its agenda.
Comment Period Re-Opens, But Only for One Day and Only at the Last Minute
In the face of the harsh criticism, the Federal Register announced that they would reopen the comment period for the rule proposal. However, two details only added fuel to the flames:
- The comment period would only reopen for one day, Friday, February 15, in order to replace the day that was eliminated by the site's shut down, and
- The announcement was only filed at the end of business on February 12 and was only published on February 14
The decision allows new comments to be submitted online before the close of the extended comment period at 11:59 p.m. EST on February 15. Whether news of the extension will reach all of those who were deterred or prevented from commenting at the last minute, before, will never be known.
Title IX Defense Attorney Joseph D. Lento
Joseph D. Lento applauds the decision to amend the Title IX framework to allow accused students the opportunity to have their voices heard. That the process has been so filled with errors and missteps, though, is unfortunate.
If you have been accused of a Title IX offense, call attorney Joseph D. Lento at (888) 535-3686 or contact him online.