Title IX on the Nines
Title IX on the Nines

On January 9, 2023, at 9:00 a.m. we presented our first in a monthly series of “Title IX on the Nines” webinars.  We were joined by over 100 people from the K-12 and college/university levels.  We discussed the top five mistakes we have seen schools and institutions make when processing Title IX sexual harassment complaints during 2022 and provided some steps that should be taken now to ensure your institution is in compliance with Title IX moving forward.  In case you missed the webinar, here is a summary of what was discussed. 

The top five mistakes we have seen over the past year include:

  1. Not properly training your staff regarding Title IX. This includes not only the Title IX Coordinator, Investigator, Decision-Maker and Appeal Decision-Maker, but ensuring that your entire staff is familiar with Title IX, the definitions of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination, and how to report sexual harassment if the staff member witnesses or experiences it.
  2. Not properly determining up front whether a complaint falls under Title IX, including whether it falls under one of the definitions of sexual harassment expressly set out in the Title IX regulations, whether the conduct occurred in a program or activity over which the institution exerts substantial control over both the respondent and the context, and whether the conduct occurred against a person in the United States.
  3. Not properly identifying the alleged Title IX violations and/or other code violations before starting an investigation. Because the Title IX investigator is limited to investigating only the identified violations, it is important to clearly define the allegations at the outset of any complaint process.
  4. Failing to adequately communicate and update the complainant and respondent during the grievance process, including educating them on the process, the expected length of the investigation, and the reason for any delays. This is a simple step that is often overlooked and leads to complainants and respondents feeling that their complaints are being ignored even if they are being processed appropriately.
  5. Providing inadequate support measures to complainants and respondents. Support measures that are non-disciplinary and non-punitive and allow the parties to continue to access their education are important during the complaint process, and even when a student who feels he/she has been sexually harassed chooses not to file a formal Title IX complaint.  It is important to know when and how to provide supportive measures.

If you have not done so already, some steps you should take promptly include: (1) identify your Title IX Coordinator(s), investigator(s), decision-maker(s) and appeal decision-maker(s); (2) ensure that all personnel assigned to those roles are properly trained, and that you have posted the training materials on your website; (3) ensure your entire staff is trained in how to recognize and report sexual harassment; and (4) ensure that your Title IX policies and regulations are up to date. 

We will be meeting virtually each month on the 9th at 9:00 a.m. for a quick webinar on a topic related to Title IX.  We invite you to email us at titleixonthenines@pullcom.com with ideas of what you would like covered in future webinars.  If you have a burning question, email it to the same address.  Each month we will choose one or two questions to answer during the webinar as our “question of the month.”  We hope you will join us each month for Title IX on the Nines

Posted in Title IX

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Alerts, commentary, and insights from the attorneys of Pullman & Comley’s School Law practice on federal and Connecticut law as it pertains to educational institutions, whether those institutions be public school districts, private K-12 schools, or post-secondary colleges and universities.

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