HARRISBURG—New Title IX rules advanced by the Trump administration went into effect August 14 for all educational institutions (K-12 and post-secondary education) to follow in sexual misconduct investigations.
Changes to the guidance include:
- Narrowing the parameters and dismissals of reports/cases: schools can choose to investigate off-campus assaults, but are no longer required to do so and will not be out of compliance if choosing not to investigate.
- Dismissals of reports/cases: schools may now dismiss complaints involving students/employees who are no longer enrolled or actively seeking participation in educational programs or activities.
- Deliberate indifference: a school has committed sex discrimination only when it demonstrates "deliberate indifference" to reports. Deliberate indifference occurs when a school's actions are clearly unreasonable, a student is intentionally discriminated against, or known discrimination is permitted.
Administrators and Title IX coordinators in schools have spent the summer of 2020 determining how to comply with the new rules this coming school year as well as how to operate during COVID-19.
“Students and communities will see significant restructuring in processes for investigations when a victim comes forward, revisions in how sexual misconduct and abuse is defined, and different legal guidance for schools to comply with the law,” PCAR CEO Karen Baker said. “These changes are a significant step backward in the fight to end sexual assault on college campuses. All students should have the right to an education free from sexual harassment and violence.”
Rape crisis centers are available to offer their experience and expertise to help educational institutions develop procedures which support victims and work to prevent sexual harassment and abuse.
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) has been following these rule changes closely since they were originally proposed in 2018 More information is available at https://pcar.org/what-know-about-title-ix
The U.S. Department of Education also has information available on its website at https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/tix_dis.html
If anyone is in need of counseling or legal assistance as a result of sexual violence on campus they can receive free and confidential services throughout the Commonwealth. Contact information for every sexual assault center in Pennsylvania is available at https://pcar.org/help-pa/locations or call 1-888-772-7227. For legal assistance, call Sexual Violence Legal Assistance Project at 717-901-6784.