On May 6th, the U.S. Department of Education published its long-awaited final regulations regarding sexual harassment under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The final regulations take effect on August 14, 2020 and, as expected, they will have a significant impact on the manner in which educational institutions investigate and address claims of sex discrimination and harassment.

Title IX applies to education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance (“recipients”) and specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment. Until now, there have been no binding federal regulations related to sexual harassment under Title IX, only administrative guidance issued by the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights.

The final regulations dramatically expand the requirements for Title IX grievance procedures, which will require significant policy and procedure revisions, training, and time to implement. While many schools are focused on planning for the reopening of schools in the fall, they should be sure to keep the new regulations on their radar and take steps to ensure that they are in compliance come August 14, 2020 by updating policies and grievance procedures and providing any necessary training for school staff.

Below are a few of the new changes:

  • Narrowing the definition of sexual assault under Title IX
  • Limiting the obligation to investigate complaints only to conduct that occurred in the school’s program or activity (and not to unrelated off campus conduct)
  • Mandatory response obligations of schools (i.e., providing supportive measures)
  • A change to the standard for school liability
  • More detailed grievance procedures that will alter the way schools process and respond to complaints
  • Hearings are optional, written questions required (for K-12 Schools)
  • Schools may choose what standard of evidence to use (e.g. preponderance of evidence v. clear and convincing)
  • Schools must offer both parties an appeal from a determination regarding responsibility

Additional links that may prove helpful in becoming more familiar with the new regulations:

For questions about these final regulations, please contact any member of our School Law Group.

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Photo of Tyler Bischoff Tyler Bischoff

Tyler Bischoff is a member of the firm’s School Law Practice Group, where he advises public school districts on a variety of general education, special education and labor and employment issues.

Prior to joining Shipman & Goodwin, Tyler served as a law clerk…

Tyler Bischoff is a member of the firm’s School Law Practice Group, where he advises public school districts on a variety of general education, special education and labor and employment issues.

Prior to joining Shipman & Goodwin, Tyler served as a law clerk for the Honorable Christine E. Keller of the Connecticut Appellate Court. Prior to law school, Tyler worked as a college admissions counselor at a private university. While in law school, he served as a judicial extern for the Honorable Bruce M. Selya of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and an intern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island.

Photo of Jessica Richman Smith Jessica Richman Smith

Jessica represents schools in a variety of education, labor relations and employment law matters.  She negotiates certified and non-certified collective bargaining agreements on behalf of numerous public boards of education.  Jessica also represents school districts in labor and employment disputes, freedom of information…

Jessica represents schools in a variety of education, labor relations and employment law matters.  She negotiates certified and non-certified collective bargaining agreements on behalf of numerous public boards of education.  Jessica also represents school districts in labor and employment disputes, freedom of information hearings, teacher tenure proceedings, student disciplinary matters, election law matters, and other legal proceedings arising in the education context.  In addition, Jessica advises schools on education policies and practices, compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act, and other legal matters arising in the education context.

Photo of Gwen J. Zittoun Gwen J. Zittoun

Gwen represents boards of education in relation to special education, Section 504, restraint and seclusion, student discipline, board policy development and revision, and general education matters. Gwen frequently speaks on education issues, including privacy and confidentiality of student information, bullying and Section 504.

Photo of Julie C. Fay Julie C. Fay

Julie represents public and independent schools in a variety of special education and general education law matters, with a particular focus on issues relating to students with disabilities, student discipline, confidentiality, school governance and policy. Julie frequently represents schools in administrative hearings, including…

Julie represents public and independent schools in a variety of special education and general education law matters, with a particular focus on issues relating to students with disabilities, student discipline, confidentiality, school governance and policy. Julie frequently represents schools in administrative hearings, including expulsion hearings, special education due process hearings and related proceedings, and is often called upon to guide districts in drafting policies and administrative procedures in all education law areas. As part of her practice, Julie has conducted numerous professional development workshops for clients and other school organizations.