Chronicle: OCR has closed just 19% of sexual assault investigations since 2011

176 investigations opened in last two years

The Education Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has handled 243 sexual assault investigations since 2011, when it issued its first "Dear Colleague” letter about how it would investigate sexual assault-related Title IX violations, but has posted a closure rate of only 19%, Katherine Mangan reports for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

And since the start of 2014, OCR has opened 176 investigations into how colleges handled sexual assault investigations but closed just 20. 

Many college officials don’t know how schools land on the list, how long they stay on it, and why they may be found out of compliance with Title IX.

Schools can sit on the list for years without closure. For example, University of Massachusetts at Amherst has been on the list for four and a half years. Last fall, the department finally closed its investigation into Michigan State University—four years after the case was opened. The investigation took so long that Michigan State administrators said they had already fixed the issues independently.

Long completion times partially stem from the level of detail that the department requests from institutions. Officials asked leaders at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville for 20 separate sources of information, including an Excel spreadsheet of every student tip or complaint. Each complaint then had to be broken into 16 categories of information. 

Currently, 197 cases remain open (Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education, 1/10; Thomason, "The Ticker," Chronicle of Higher Education, 9/1/2015).

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