Today, August 14, 2020, the new Title IX regulations, enforced by the U.S. Department of Education (“DOE”), will go into effect. As discussed in our May 13, 2020 advisory on this topic, available here, the regulations have many new requirements for sexual harassment policies and procedures that need to be in effect by August 14, 2020.
Additionally, on August 3rd the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (“MASC”) published a revised version of Policy ACAB to adapt to the new Title IX regulations. After review of the MASC model, however, we believe that several revisions are required. The following are most significant:
- The Policy should apply only to sexual harassment and not to harassment generally;
- The Policy must contain timeframes for stages of the investigation process; and
- The Policy must address Title IX complaints from employees.
We also advise that districts adopt the following components within the policy:
- A “preponderance of the evidence” standard;
- Limit appeals from determinations only to those that are required and that it not choose to allow appeals on other grounds, to avoid further entangling administrators in these procedures;
- Do not grant full, trial-like hearings as permitted by the regulations; and
- In addition to a Title IX Coordinator, the new regulations require a separate “decisionmaker” and a separate “investigator.” The policy ought to define who these people are and that generally the building Principal should be the “decisionmaker” and that the “investigator” should generally be the assistant Principal or other appropriate administrator.
School Committees will need to update their policies to conform to the new law which goes into effect on August 14th and provide training to administrators involved in the management, investigation, and decisions regarding sexual harassment complaints. Our office is available to review and update policies and to provide the required training for administrators.
If you have questions regarding this update, the new Title IX regulations, or school law generally, please contact us.
This update is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.