Department of Education Releases Updated Guidance for Title IX Compliance
On April 24, 2015, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) issued a “guidance package” to further assist educational institutions in understanding their Title IX obligations. The package consisted of a Dear Colleague letter, a letter to Title IX Coordinators, and a “Title IX Resource Guide.” The primary message of the materials is that each institution must have a designated Title IX Coordinator and that person must be vested with the independence and authority to ensure compliance with Title IX. The materials further relay the importance of ensuring that Title IX Coordinators are properly trained to handle all responsibilities with which they are charged and that they are easily accessible by the entire campus community.
The release of these materials is significant not only because of their substance, but also because their release is a signal that OCR does not believe institutions are yet appropriately complying with Title IX or grasping its far reach. The letter notes, “[i]n our enforcement work, OCR has found that some of the most egregious and harmful Title IX violations occur when a recipient fails to designate a Title IX coordinator or when a Title IX coordinator has not been sufficiently trained or given the appropriate level of authority to oversee the recipient’s compliance with Title IX.”