Here are four facts every South Dakota school administrator should know about Title IX.
Fact #1 - What is Title IX?
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs and activities. All public and private elementary and secondary schools, school districts, colleges, and universities receiving any federal financial assistance must comply with Title IX.
Fact #2 – What is “sexual violence”?
“Sexual violence” refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent (due to the student’s age or use of drugs or alcohol, or because an intellectual or other disability prevents the student from having the capacity to give consent).
A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual coercion. Sexual violence can be carried out by school employees, other students, or third parties. All acts of sexual violence are forms of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.
Fact #3 – Does Title IX apply to student-on-student sexual violence?
Yes. Under Title IX, schools must make sure that students are not denied or limited in their ability to participate in (or benefit from) the school’s educational programs or activities on the basis of sex.
A school violates a student’s Title IX rights regarding student-on-student sexual violence when: (1) the alleged conduct is sufficiently serious to limit or deny a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the school’s educational program (i.e. creates a hostile environment) and (2) the school, upon notice, fails to take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the sexual violence, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent its recurrence, and, as appropriate, remedy its effects.
Fact #4 – What are a school’s responsibilities to address student-on-student sexual violence?
When a school knows, or reasonably should know, of possible sexual violence, it must take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate what occurred. If an investigation reveals that sexual violence created a hostile environment, the school must take steps reasonably calculated to end the sexual violence, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent its recurrence, and, as appropriate, remedy its effects. However, a school should not wait to take steps to protect its students until students have already been deprived of educational opportunities.
Title IX also requires a school to protect the complainant and ensure their safety as necessary, including taking interim steps before the final outcome of any investigation. The school should take these steps promptly once it has notice of a sexual violence allegation and should provide the complainant with periodic updates on the status of the investigation. If the school determines that the sexual violence occurred, the school must continue to take these steps to protect the complainant and ensure their safety, as necessary. The school should also ensure that the complainant is aware of any available resources, such as victim advocacy, housing assistance, academic support, counseling, disability services, health and mental health services, legal assistance, and the right to report a crime to local law enforcement.
For more information about a public school district’s Title IX requirements, read Chapter 36 of The South Dakota School Law Deskbook (2017-2018 Supplement).