Seven Title IX Developments We Can Expect

Topics: Student Affairs, Student Experience, Administration and Finance, Legal and Compliance

Jane Alexander

Jane Alexander, Consultant

What does the future hold for Title IX? Peter Lake, professor of law at Stetson University and higher education law and policy expert, shared seven Title IX developments to expect during an ACPA 2015 session entitled “The Four Corners of Title IX Compliance."

1. Ramped up OCR investigations

The Department of Education is adding up to 200 new employees. What’s the purpose of the hiring surge? Peter predicts it’s to increase capacity to conduct a lot more OCR investigations.

2. More Dear Colleague Letters

Expect additional guidance from the Department of Education on Title IX regulation and compliance. Peter anticipates up to four more Dear Colleague Letters will be sent to presidents and Title IX coordinators in the near future.

3. Mandated annual climate survey

There have been rumblings of a mandate to conduct an annual climate survey. Expect these rumblings to solidify in forthcoming federal and state legislation. To get ahead of the mandate, SUNY institutions will conduct a climate survey in the 2015-2016 school year.

4. Court challenges to due process

There is ongoing debate about whether current application of Title IX ensures the rights of the accused. Peter anticipates this debate will move forward in the courts, perhaps reaching a Supreme Court ruling that Title IX does not protect due process.

5. More lawyers get involved

As the application of Title IX becomes increasingly complex, a new generation of lawyers with regulatory skills is coming into higher education. Expect that institutions and students will increasingly access lawyers for counsel and legal action.

6. Single investigator model replaces hearing panels

Most institutions use internal investigators and hearing panels to resolve a report of sexual violence. But with the risk of OCR investigation, student law suits, and reputation damage if an investigation is botched, institutions are increasingly turning to external investigators and adjudicators.

7. More adjudications result in a "tie"

Many investigations of sexual violence yield scant evidence to inform adjudication. Peter expects to see more resolutions end in a “tie,” or inability to determine responsibility. The Department of Education will likely specify that this is an acceptable finding.

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