Safety from Sexual Assault in Schools
As we recently learned through the heinous events in Loudoun County, VA where two girls at different schools were sexually assaulted inside the school by the same boy, K-12 schools are not immune to sexual violence in schools or on campus.
In a 2015 study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compiled statistics that revealed that 30 percent of female victims of sexual assault were first attacked between the ages of 11 and 17 and that 20 percent of high school-age girls have experienced dating violence.
The National High School Federation Association reports that the trend in numerous rulings in recent years, both by courts and the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) indicate that such attacks often occur on school grounds or in association with school activities and that high schools and middle schools appear to be failing victims of sexual assault through inadequate investigatory procedures following reports of sexual violence in schools. As of 2015, there were 33 open OCR Title IX sexual violence investigations pending in school districts across the United States.
What is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in an educational institution’s programs or activities, including employment, academic, educational, extracurricular and athletic activities (both on and off campus).
On August 14, 2020, the 1972 Title IX Rule was revised and all Public schools must be in compliance.
Filing a Formal Complaint of Title IX:
A Formal Complaint of Title IX Sexual Harassment is a written document filed and signed by the Complainant, the Complainant’s parent, or the Title IX Coordinator, alleging sexual harassment and requesting an investigation. A Formal Complaint involving one or more students must be filed with the Title IX Coordinator in person or by U.S. or electronic mail. Use of the Formal Complaint of Title IX Sexual Harassment form is strongly encouraged, though not necessary. A PDF version of the Formal Complaint of Title IX Sexual Harassment form can be found on your school district’s website. An electronic version of the form can also be requested from the Title IX Coordinator.
The new Title IX Rule specifically requires schools to post on their websites:
- The contact information for the school’s Title IX Coordinator(s);
- The school’s non-discrimination policy; and
- Training materials used to train the school’s Title IX personnel.
Title IX Coordinator Contact Information / Non-discrimination Policy
Section 106.8(a) requires schools to designate and authorize at least one employee as a Title IX Coordinator and to notify students, employees, applicants, parents and guardians, and others of the Title IX Coordinator’s contact information. That information must include the name or title of the Title IX Coordinator, an office address, a telephone number, and an e-mail address. Contact info must be “prominently display[ed]” on the school’s website.
Schools are required to notify students, employees, applicants, parents and guardians, and others that the school does not discriminate on the basis of sex, and that Title IX requires the school not to discriminate. This non-discrimination policy must also be prominently displayed on the school’s website
These requirements are intended to ensure that a school’s entire educational community understands how to contact the Title IX Coordinator to report sex discrimination, including sexual harassment. Section 106.8(a) expressly states that reports can be made at any time, including during non-business hours, by using the Title IX Coordinator’s listed telephone number or e-mail address, “or by any other means that results in the Title IX Coordinator receiving the person’s verbal or written report.”
Training Materials for Title IX Personnel: § 106.45(b)(1)(iii) & § 106.45(b)(10)(i)(D)
- The Title IX Rule requires schools’ Title IX personnel to be unbiased and free from conflicts of interest.
- Title IX personnel include the Title IX Coordinator, any investigator, any decision-maker, and any person who facilities an informal resolution (such as mediation).
Schools must ensure that Title IX personnel receive training as follows:
- Title IX’s definition of “sexual harassment”
- The scope of the school’s education program or activity
- How to conduct an investigation and grievance process
- How to serve impartially, including by avoiding prejudgment of the facts at issue
- How to avoid conflicts of interest and bias
- Decision-makers must receive training on any technology to be used at a live hearing, and on issues of relevance of questions and evidence, including when questions and evidence about a complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant
- Investigators must receive training on issues of relevance to create an investigative report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence
All materials used to train Title IX personnel:
- Must not rely on sex stereotypes
- Must promote impartial investigations and adjudications of formal complaints of sexual harassment
- Must be maintained by the school for at least 7 years
- Must be publicly available on the school’s website
- Under the Title IX Rule, students, employees, the Department, and the public will be able to examine a school’s training materials, providing a necessary safeguard to improve the impartiality, reliability, and legitimacy of Title IX proceedings
- Schools must publish training materials that are up to date and reflect the latest training provided to Title IX personnel
- Section 106.45(b)(10)(i)(D) does not permit a school to choose whether to post the training materials or offer a public inspection option. Rather, the school must post the training materials on its website
- A school must post on its website: “All materials used to train Title IX Coordinators, investigators, decision-makers, and any person who facilitates an informal resolution process.” Posting anything less than “all materials” on the website is insufficient. Accordingly, merely listing topics covered by the school’s training of Title IX personnel, or merely summarizing such training materials is not the same as posting “all materials.”
- Nothing in the Title IX Rule overrules intellectual property rights. If a school is unable to secure permission from a third party to post copyrighted training materials, then the school must create or obtain training materials that can lawfully be posted on the school’s website.
In The News:
- Virginia School Covered Up Sexual Assault That Left Victim Hospitalized
- Loudoun County has been covering up assaults in schools for years
- Virginia dad vilified for defending daughter shows rot at heart of system: Devine
- EXCLUSIVE: ‘There was a boy in the girl’s bathroom who attacked my daughter – the skirt isn’t relevant.’ Mom of Loudoun County rape victim tells how she and Papa Bear husband were told to ‘keep silent’ and are suing board for failing to protect their child
- Loudoun County school board faces parents again after sexual assault controversy
- Loudoun County students plan walkout after sexual assault by boy in girls’ bathroom
- Loudoun County father arrested at school board event says school tried to cover up daughter’s bathroom assault
- Virginia’s GOP Attorney General-Elect Plans To Investigate Loudoun Sexual Assault Cover-Up
- 3 Tuscarora High School students charged in locker room sexual assault incident, police say
- Sexual Assault in K12 Public Schools Presentation by Elicia Brand