Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued clear new guidelines as to what Title IX requires of America’s schools, from the elementary to university level Monday morning.
In the event, held at the University of New Hampshire, Biden and Duncan took a firm stance against sexual violence and the school climates that fail to combat it. To help schools understand their obligations, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights sent a 19-page “Dear Colleague” letter to all school districts, colleges and universities that receive federal funding that explicitly states the government’s expectations under Title IX, which prohibits any discrimination on the basis of sex.
“Students across the country deserve the safest possible environment in which to learn,” Biden said in introducing the guidlenes. “That’s why we’re taking new steps to help our nation’s schools, universities and colleges end the cycle of sexual violence on campus.”
The fact sheet lists six main steps that schools must follow whenever a sexual assault is reported:
• Once a school knows or reasonably should know of possible sexual violence, it must take immediate and appropriate action to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred.
• If sexual violence has occurred, a school must take prompt and effective steps to end the sexual violence, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects, whether or not the sexual violence is the subject of a criminal investigation.
• A school must take steps to protect the complainant as necessary, including interim steps taken prior to the final outcome of the investigation.
• A school must provide a grievance procedure for students to file complaints of sex discrimination, including complaints of sexual violence. These procedures must include an equal opportunity for both parties to present witnesses and other evidence and the same appeal rights.
• A school’s grievance procedures must use the preponderance of the evidence standard to resolve complaints of sex discrimination.
• A school must notify both parties of the outcome of the complaint.