Despite efforts by schools and advocacy organizations, state attorneys general, and members of Congress and the Senate, the Department of Education’s proposed Title IX rules reportedly have cleared Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review and sources say that the final rules are coming—soon. Although the timing of the release during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis is far from ideal, employees with Title IX responsibilities may be able to use some of the well-documented time lost in productivity on normal day-to-day tasks during this crisis to prepare for the coming changes. In addition to signing up for our Franczek blogs and alerts so that you can receive our insights on the rules if and when they are released, we recommend that schools, colleges, and universities do the following four tasks now to prepare for the impending regulatory changes.
- Review the Proposed Regulation. It has been over 16 months since the proposed regulations were released, which is plenty of time to forget most of what they say. Although some changes will likely be made based on the 100+ comments the Department received, we can assume that any final rules released will mirror large portions of the proposed rules. So now is a good time to refresh yourself on what those changes are. Reviewing the entire document, which is nearly 150 pages in normal double-spaced formatting and is riddled with legalese, is a tall task. Our summary of the regulations is a good place to start in refreshing yourself on what the proposed regulations would require.
- Determine which team members will need to be involved in making decisions about policies, procedures, and practices once the rules are released. With an implementation date of August 2020 floating around in the Title IX community, educational institutions will be required to move relatively quickly to revise policies and procedures in the face of any final rule. The normal, often lengthy, processes schools, colleges, and universities typically use to enact policy and procedure changes, including committees and multiple levels of administrative and board review, may not be realistic in light of this short timeline. Institutions should think now about how they can streamline processes to facilitate compliance with deadlines for policy and procedure changes. Examples of steps to take include identifying team members for policy and procedure changes and taking steps to allow administrators and boards to quickly authorize any changes, potentially more quickly than usual.
- Identify policies, procedures, and other written guidelines currently in effect to allow modifications to be made quickly and easily when required. When our team conducts updates to client documents—including policies, procedures, and guidelines—one time-consuming initial step is collecting and identifying those documents. This is particularly true with respect to procedures and guidance, which may exist in handbooks, on websites, and in other physical locations. Begin the hard work now of identifying and collecting all documents that govern or describe your Title IX process so that consistent changes can be made during the review process.
- Work significant Title IX training into your calendar for the summer and 2020-2021 school year. The new rules will almost certainly require significant training for any employees who coordinate, investigate, or make decisions regarding Title IX matters. The proposed rules, for instance, state that the Department assumes schools, colleges, and universities will provide at least 16 hours of training each for all Title IX coordinators, investigators, and decision-makers. As always, trainings that involve at least some element of live interaction with a trainer and allow participants to work through real-life scenarios are the gold standard for effectiveness and risk avoidance. As noted in a previous blog post, our team can bring you such trainings at any time, including through interactive video webinars that bring your team together even during social distancing. Contact us for more information.