Many days I get the question: “How did I choose this field to specialize in?”
I didn’t–it chose me. And the fact that it chose me, the fact that I love teaching, and the fact that I love the law are all reasons why I have dedicated my work and life to combatting sexual violence. I believe that we can create great change, and I have and will continue to fight for that change.
In our opinion, our parents, educators, administrators, students, and community members have continuously thought: “This cannot be happening at my school. This cannot be happening to my child.” I have horrible news–it is happening at your school and, if your child is not a survivor, your child knows a survivor. We must start early in our children’s lives to combat bullying, harassment, hazing, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. We must change the culture in which we have, for years, dismissed or ignored these issues. And through my work at Title IX and Clery Act Consulting, LLC, I am here to help you — no matter who you are — do that.
When people speak about Title IX they are referring to 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a), which states:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
What does this mean?
Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Indeed, Title IX is a very short statute. Guidance for schools that receive federal funding has been found through Supreme Court decisions and specific guidance from the U.S. Department of Education. Most of us first understood Title IX in its relationship to sports, however, from decisions of the United States Supreme Court and guidance letters (entitled “Dear Colleague Letters” from the U.S. Department of Education) Title IX now encompasses sexual assault and harassment — or, as many schools like to term it: “sexual misconduct.” Thus, under Title IX, schools are legally required to respond and remedy hostile educational environments and failure to do so is a violation that means a school could risk losing its federal funding — that would be called the “nuclear bomb” reaction. No school has had that transpire. Yet, for those following Title IX campus sexual assault coverage in the media, it is clear that the Department of Justice and Office of Civil Rights are taking complaints regarding schools seriously.
Here, at Title IX and Clery Act Consulting, LLC, we take compliance issues very seriously. That information can be found through looking at our mission statement, reviewing Jules C. Irvin-Rooney’s biography and mission statement, and (most of all) contacting us to help you.
However, it is important to understand the specific requirements of Title IX. In order to do so, schools must look to guidance materials from the U.S. Department of Education. Recently, the 2011 Title IX Guidance, known as the “Dear Colleague Letter” (DCL), discussed the obligations schools have to address campus sexual violence. While the DCL is not law, it is a firm “recommendation,” and it tells schools what the Department of Education recommends they do in all stages of a campus sexual assault — pro-active and re-active. It also outlines how the Department of Education will review and respond to complaints. For more information, you can read the entirety of the April 2011 “Dear Colleague Letter.”
Do note that this “Dear Colleague Letter” focuses primarily on post-secondary schools — schools of higher education, whether they are two year colleges or four year colleges or universities. To note, for the Department of Education to investigate, one (1) single instance of sexual violence is sufficient to qualify as creating a hostile educational environment.
Here at Title IX and Clery Act Consulting, LLC, we deal with issues both about K-12 federally funded schools and post-secondary schools.
Yet, what is this “Clery Act?” The Clery Act currently only applies to post-secondary schools. It was originally termed the “Campus Security Act,” yet it is now called the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (20 USC § 1092(f)). As The Clery Center for Security on Campus States: “This is the landmark federal law that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. The law is tied to an institution’s participation in federal student financial aid programs and it applies to most institutions of higher education both public and private. The Clery Act is enforced by the United States Department of Education.”
But those are not the only two laws at issue when it comes to K-12 school and college campus sexual assaults and harassment. We have to consider much more. And that, is why we are here to help.