The U.S. Department of Education recently released its anticipated proposed regulations regarding sexual harassment under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. If adopted, these regulations could have a significant impact on the manner in which educational agencies and institutions investigate and address claims of sexual harassment or discrimination.  Although these regulations may not be binding on independent schools, these evolving standards will foreseeably impact best practices and establish more general expectations.

Key components of the proposed regulations include: a definition of sexual harassment; a duty for recipients only to investigate complaints of conduct that occurred within their program or activity; the adoption of an “actual knowledge” and “deliberate indifference” standard of liability; and detailed grievance procedures.

Currently there are no binding federal regulations related to sexual harassment under Title IX, only administrative guidance issued by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights, which enforces Title IX. The proposed regulations are open to public comment for 60 days, and may result in further revisions before they become final.

Title IX specifically applies to state and local educational agencies and institutions that receive federal financial assistance (recipient(s)) and specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment, which has the effect of denying students access to educational programs or activities. Generally, independent schools do not receive federal financial assistance, and are thus not covered by Title IX.  However, if an independent school, or any part (or program) thereof, receives any federal funds for any purpose, all of the operations of the independent school will be deemed covered by Title IX.

Please click here for our summary and analysis of the proposed regulations.

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Photo of Leander A. Dolphin Leander A. Dolphin

Leander represents public school districts, independent schools, and colleges and universities in education and employment matters, including student discipline, special education disputes, disability-related matters, employee discipline and discharge, and investigations. In addition, she represents clients in claims before the Commission on Human Rights…

Leander represents public school districts, independent schools, and colleges and universities in education and employment matters, including student discipline, special education disputes, disability-related matters, employee discipline and discharge, and investigations. In addition, she represents clients in claims before the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and the Office of Civil Rights. Leander has conducted numerous professional development workshops for private and public sector clients on topics such as sexual harassment, bullying, special education, disability discrimination, and confidentiality issues.

Photo of Peter J. Maher Peter J. Maher

Peter Maher is a member of the School Law Practice Group where he represents public school districts in a variety of general education, special education, and labor and employment law matters.  Peter frequently presents on various school law topics and provides professional development…

Peter Maher is a member of the School Law Practice Group where he represents public school districts in a variety of general education, special education, and labor and employment law matters.  Peter frequently presents on various school law topics and provides professional development training for school personnel and professional groups.  As a former special education teacher, Pete regularly draws on his teaching experience in counseling clients, as he is able to provide not only legal advice but also practical perspective.  Prior to joining Shipman & Goodwin, Peter served as a law clerk to the Honorable Thomas I. Vanaskie of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Photo of Natalia Sieira-Millan Natalia Sieira-Millan

Natalia Sieira Millan advises public school districts on all aspects of school law, and she also teaches school law at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut as well as the Quinnipiac University School of Education.  Prior to joining the…

Natalia Sieira Millan advises public school districts on all aspects of school law, and she also teaches school law at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut as well as the Quinnipiac University School of Education.  Prior to joining the firm, Attorney Sieira Millan was an Assistant Agency Legal Director with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.