The US Department of Education (DOE) on May 6, 2020, issued legally binding amended regulations governing how institutions that receive federal funding under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) must respond to allegations of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment (the Final Regulations). The release came 18 months after the DOE issued a lengthy notice of proposed rulemaking, to which it received more than 124,000 comments in response.
While the Final Regulations focus primarily on institutions of higher education, their detailed processes largely apply to elementary and secondary schools as well. Reactions have been mixed, with many supporting the changes that they say protect the due process rights of alleged perpetrators, and many others condemning the Final Regulations and expressing concern that they will undermine the purpose of Title IX and deter students from reporting sexual harassment and assault.
Regardless of viewpoint, the fast approaching implementation deadline of August 14, 2020 means that thousands of educational institutions, as well as their partners, such as hospitals, clinical affiliates, and academic medical centers, will need to put new sexual harassment complaint processes in place quickly.