October 03, 2017

U.S. Department of Education Suggests Mediation an Option for Title IX Complaints

The latest guidance from the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights says that colleges can use informal resolutions such as mediation to resolve Title IX complaints -- even those involving sexual assaults. In a conference call with members of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson discussed a new seven-page Q&A document the Department issued after rescinding its 2011 and 2014 guidance that led to significant changes in how campuses handled Title IX matters.

One section of the Q&A document specifically addressed the informal resolution of complaints:
Question 7:
After a Title IX complaint has been opened for investigation, may a school facilitate an informal resolution of the complaint? 
If all parties voluntarily agree to participate in an informal resolution that does not involve a full investigation and adjudication after receiving a full disclosure of the allegations and their options for formal resolution and if a school determines that the particular Title IX complaint is appropriate for such a process, the school may facilitate an informal resolution, including mediation, to assist the parties in reaching a voluntary resolution. 
The change was surprising to many. Scott Schneider, a lawyer who nationally recognized professional on higher education legal issues and institutional response to sex assault, told Inside Higher Ed that the clarification didn't make sense from a principled or a practical standpoint. "I just can't imagine that there is a school in this country at this point that has anybody on staff who, I would have a high degree of confidence, has the competence to handle mediation in a sexual assault case," he said.
(Dept of Ed Q&A; Inside Higher Ed.)

Related posts: Harvard Law Case Study Focuses on Ombuds and the 'Dear Colleague Letter'IOA Takes a Stand on Title IX Issues; Watch Senator Question White House Title IX Expert on Role of Campus Ombuds; IOA Releases Memo Providing Legal Grounds for Ombuds Confidentiality in Title IX Matters; U.S. Department of Education Suggests University Ombuds Should Report Crime Statistics; IOA Pushes Back on Department of Education's Stance on Clery Act; IOA Compiles Title IX Resources; IOA Surveys Higher Education Ombuds Confidentiality for Clery Act & Title IX Matters.

And see: Other Ombuds Blog posts related to Title IX.

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