Most Basic Title IX Step Skipped

Via Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions or programs have had 42 years to designate a Title IX coordinator at each of their institutions, as required by law. How can it be that some still don’t take this most basic step to comply with Title IX — even in the home district of Title IX’s author, the late Rep. Edith Green of Portland, Ore.?

It’s been nearly a year since the board of Portland Public Schools ordered employees to figure out why the district allegedly let a male employee get away with years of sexual misconduct and assault, and fix whatever problems forced the district into a $250,000 settlement with one of the alleged victims.

One of those problems is that the district even now has yet to designate a qualified Title IX coordinator. They haven’t even written a job description to hire one, OregonLive reports. They’ve had much more than a year’s notice about this requirement. The Title IX regulation that first went into effect in July 1975 (sections 106.8 and 106.9) mandates that schools receiving federal funds must designate a Title IX coordinator so that students and employees who face sex discrimination know who to turn to for help, and must publicize the contact info for that person and the school’s grievance procedures.

In 1997 the Office for Civil Rights reminded schools in a “Sexual Harassment Guidance” letter that each school must have at least one Title IX coordinator, adding that the coordinators must be adequately trained about what constitutes sexual harassment and be able to explain the grievance procedure.

Then there was an April 24, 2015 “Dear Colleague” letter from the Office for Civil Rights to all school districts, colleges, and universities focused specifically on making sure they each have at least one Title IX coordinator and outlining more specifics about how to do that in ways that meet both the letter and the spirit of the law.

The University of Tennessee just launched a nationwide search for a Title IX coordinator to oversee its three-campus system. Why? Because it got socked with a $2.48 million settlement last year after eight women sued the university for fostering a hostile sexual environment and doing little about complaints of sexual assaults by athletes, in violation of Title IX.

These examples are tips of the iceberg. Many schools fail to comply with basic parts of Title IX, a recent report found.

After more than four decades, time has nearly run out for thinking that any educational institution or program without a Title IX coordinator cares about keeping students safe, or doesn’t have the resources for this, or just needs more time to do what it should have done four decades ago. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they don’t care, at least not until they get hit by a financial penalty, and sometimes not even then.

Does  your school, college, or university have a trained Title IX coordinator who easily can be found through a website or other means? If not, isn’t it time?

 

 

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