Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday unveiled updates to Title IX rules that strengthen the right to due process for students accused of sexual misconduct.
“Too many students have lost access to their education because their school inadequately responded when a student filed a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual assault,” DeVos said in a statement. “This new regulation requires schools to act in meaningful ways to support survivors of sexual misconduct, without sacrificing important safeguards to ensure a fair and transparent process.”
DeVos’s updates to Title IX, which prohibits federal funding for programs that discriminate on the basis of sex, require schools to adjudicate sexual misconduct complaints within a common framework.
That framework mandates schools to allow cross-examination of the accuser and the accused in live hearings. Schools would only be liable to adjudicate complaints that take place within their programs, and could set a standard of either “preponderance of evidence” or “clear and convincing evidence” to make judgments.
Previously, the Obama administration held schools liable for Title IX violations if a case of sexual misconduct occurred that a school “reasonably should” have known about. DeVos said Obama administration rules led to the establishment of “kangaroo courts” for those accused of assault.
“The rule ensures victims get the support they need to change classes or dorms if they allege they have been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed and the rule ensures the victim and the accused get a fair hearing to resolve such allegations,” Senate Education Committee chairman Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) said in a statement. “I am glad Secretary DeVos undertook this rulemaking to help give more certainty to victims, the accused, and college administrators.”