Significant changes to Title IX guidance have been in the works since the early days of the Trump Administration. Now, after years of hearings and rewrites, these final rules are set to go into effect on August 14, 2020. The new rules mark a landmark change in the way schools must address and investigate allegations of sexual assault or harassment on campus. These changes will impact students currently facing accusations as well as those accused of wrongdoing in the future.
The changes to the current rules are sweeping. During the rulemaking process, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made clear that the intended goal was to enhance the rights of the accused during the process. In the eyes of many, the previous rules showed a dangerous bias against students and faculty accused of wrongdoing.
The new rules fill more than two-thousand pages. The changes they make are comprehensive and complex, which can make it difficult to understand how they might impact your rights. If you are facing accusations of wrongdoing on campus, let attorney Joseph D. Lento advise you on how these changes might strengthen your defense.
Changes to the Rules
The sweeping changes to Title IX address many issues that plagued previous guidance. One of the critical changes was the requirement of a live hearing and the right to cross-examine witnesses during college sexual assault disciplinary hearings. These rules give the accused the opportunity to face their accuser in a live hearing. While students may not question each other directly, their adviser or legal counsel can ask questions of the other party. There are important limits on this process, including the requirement that a hearing officer screens the questions for relevance before putting them to the student. While there are some exceptions, there are rules barring questions about a person's sexual history.
The jurisdiction a school has over incidents that occur off-campus has also been significantly diminished. Schools have no obligation to investigate alleged sexual assaults that occur on school-affiliated study abroad trips. There are some limited exceptions where Title IX violations can be investigated off-campus, specifically at buildings owned or operated by the school.
These rule changes also address the scope of an alleged Title IX violation. Under previous policy, a school could pursue a sexual harassment claim if it involved “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” This includes anything from verbal or nonverbal harassment, requests for sexual favors, or any unwanted physical sexual conduct. The new rules tighten the definition of harassment, only allowing schools to pursue only unwelcome conduct that is severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive.
Let Attorney Joseph D. Lento Answer Your Questions
The new rules changes will have an impact on every person accused of misconduct on a college campus. While many of these changes are intended to protect the accused, it is crucial that you understand your rights during this challenging time. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a fierce advocate for student rights. Call him today at (888) 535-3686 or contact him online to discuss your case.