The Department of Education is in the process of altering how the edicts of Title IX are enforced in colleges across the country. One of the details encapsulated in the rule changes that are currently working their way through the political system would alter a college's jurisdiction to hear allegations of sexual misconduct.
Title IX defense lawyer Joseph D. Lento is watching the progress of the proposed rule amendments very closely.
Proposed Rule Changes Would Impact Title IX
The proposed rule amendments would change an important regulation in Title IX's enforcement structure – the Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance regulation. The rule changes have sparked criticism at nearly every point in the process: The public comment period attracted over 100,000 comments that showcased the competing interests at the heart of Title IX, in spite of the fact that site complications shut down the comment portal preemptively. Then, the Federal Register reopened the comment window to make up for the day that the site was down, but only announced the decision at the last moment.
A Crucial Detail of the Amendments Alters a School's Title IX Jurisdiction
One of the most important details embedded in the rule changes would alter a school's Title IX jurisdiction over allegations of sexual misconduct.
Currently, the regulations surrounding Title IX instruct colleges to take vigorous action whenever an instance of sexual misconduct would disrupt a student's education, even if the alleged incident happened off campus.
The proposed change to the nondiscrimination regulation, though, would only require colleges to address sexual misconduct allegations if they happened in the school's “programs or activities.” Most of the incidents that happened off campus, then, would fall outside of the school's jurisdiction.
Drafting Issue Sparks Confusion
However, the language used in the rule amendments has sparked uncertainty: There are conflicting passages in the proposed rules that make it unclear if the amendments would mean that a school cannot enforce Title IX's requirements for off-campus incidents, or if the school has the discretion to enforce Title IX's requirements. The difference is significant – many schools have expressed an interest in being able to pursue Title IX investigations for allegations of incidents that happened off campus in order to protect students from sexual misconduct. If they were not able to exercise Title IX jurisdiction over these allegations, then claimants would have to go to the police, instead.
National Title IX Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento
As we will discuss in the next few blog posts, this rule change could be a game-changer for many Title IX cases in the future. Not only is there a huge difference in the burden of proof for sexual misconduct allegations that go through the criminal system, as opposed to the Title IX process, there would also be significant differences in how many cases get reported to law enforcement. Together, these amendments would be good news for those who get wrongly accused of sexual misconduct by college students.
Joseph D. Lento is a Title IX defense lawyer who represents students accused of sexual misconduct. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686.