The U.S. Department of Education has issued final Title IX regulations effective August 14, 2020.
Although analyzing the changes will take some time, here are 3 FAQs that you need to know about the new rules.
FAQ #1 - What do these rules really mean for your school district, and how do you get key decision-makers on board to do the work that must be done before August 14?
By August 14, your school district must implement and train relevant staff on the new Title IX regulations. These regulations are focused on principles of fairness and include a staggering number of details, such as new definitions of key terms, specific procedures for handling complaints, notice and recordkeeping requirements, and training mandates.
Our law firm cannot understate how important it will be to impress upon your school's decision-makers the importance that these changes bring and the importance of providing the necessary training that is needed before August 14 and beyond.
FAQ #2 - But wait, August 14 is not enough time for my school district to figure all of this out. What gives?
Interestingly enough, the head of OCR said that the August 14 date was “an unusually long period of time” for schools to comply with a new rule. That might be true, but no rule of this magnitude has ever been released during a global pandemic that has shut down wide swaths of the country. Since the COVID-19 shutdown began, OCR has issued letters of notification (LONs) for new cases that do not even include data requests.
In so doing, OCR has recognized the challenges schools are facing right now in continuing their normal business during the COVID-19 era. So, it’s strange (to say the least) that the same agency would consider three months an appropriate amount of time for a potentially wholesale reconfiguration of schools’ sexual misconduct policies, procedures, and practices. Again, however, that is the timeline that we were given, so we have to work with it.
FAQ #3 - Our school district is in the process of updating our student handbooks for next school year. Considering these new regulations go into effect on August 14, 2020, what information should we include in our student handbooks?
It’s somewhat painful to say this, but if your school is heading to the presses on handbooks you either need to make sure they are updated to address the new rules or be comfortable with the fact that your handbooks may be out-of-date almost as soon as you start.
We recommend making even just the most basic necessary changes in the handbook before going to press. Even if you later provide an update, having outdated information in your handbook could lead to confusion and complaints from students, parents, and other community members.