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Some have robust supports with clear guidelines and procedures, she said, but in other communities “this situation might not have ever occurred and they don’t have a framework to work with.” “We need to trust the schools and law enforcement and the local social service agencies to do their jobs to support students and schools in situations like this,” said Ellspermann, who recently completed a one-year stint as president of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.In response to potential policy shifts under the De Vos administration, Ellspermann said it’s important to “to look at different procedures and ensure that they are appropriate for the current day and time, and so I am open to looking at different procedures that we have in place to see whether or not they are necessary on many levels.” Naomi Gittins, managing director of the National School Boards Association, and Phillip Hartley, its vice chair, were listed among those who attended a Title IX listening session with De Vos, but neither responded to requests for comment.While K-12 schools have largely been left out of the building debate, the Office for Civil Rights has seen a series of July listening sessions with victims of sexual violence, students who say they were unfairly punished under Title IX, and education leaders, De Vos is contemplating a philosophical and practical shift at the department’s civil rights division, which the new administration plans to revive as a “neutral, impartial, investigative agency.” In resolving sexual-violence investigations, De Vos said, “a system without due process ultimately serves no one in the end.”lawsuits — that the former administration stripped due-process rights from students accused of sexual harassment and assault.At the heart of that complaint is a 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter that urged colleges and K-12 schools to better investigate reports of sexual violence, specifying that educators “must use a preponderance of the evidence standard” in campus investigations, rather than a more rigorous “clear and convincing” standard.Rather, she said, the increase shows people saw OCR as an avenue for relief.Nationally, the rate of sexual assault and rape has fallen more than 60 percent in the last two decades.In each case, district leaders promised they’d create new school policies to better protect student safety.Adele Kimmel is banking on a similar outcome for her client. C.–based senior attorney at Public Justice, Kimmel has been representing sexual-violence victims for several years, including a young Georgia woman who also faced retaliation for reporting an attack.
In June, Jackson referred to that document — which was critical for this article — as a “If the office limits or narrows its enforcement of Title IX, Kimmel said, victims may feel less empowered to report incidents because of a “chilling effect.” Requiring the “clear and convincing evidence” standard, she said, could make victims feel less empowered to report attacks if it’s harder to ensure their perpetrator is held accountable.Yet more than 80 percent of high school guidance counselors feel ill-equipped to address reports of abuse, according to Break the Cycle, an organization that addresses teen dating violence.“I wish I was seeing a trend where schools are becoming increasingly knowledgeable and better trained in the K-12 setting, but I’m not,” said Michigan-based attorney Monica Beck of the Fierberg National Law Group Along with defining the evidentiary standard, Obama-era guidance documents directed districts to hire Title IX coordinators to oversee compliance, promptly investigate and resolve complaints, and provide reasonable accommodations to victims so they can pursue an education in a safe environment.Failure to comply, the department noted, could cost a district its federal funds — an extreme measure that’s never been used against either a K-12 school or a college or university.resolution agreements and promise changes if the Office for Civil Rights finds they aren’t compliant with the law, as was the case with Rachel Bradshaw-Bean’s district in Henderson, Texas, and Seth Walsh’s district in Tehachapi, California.“Policies imposed through ‘Dear Colleagues’ and guidances may be reversed summarily by a new administration,” Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University who is critical of the Obama-era guidance, Even as the Georgia student waits for the Education Department to reach a verdict in her case, her reporting has already prompted changes in Gwinnett County schools, Kimmel said.Although research has varied, studies suggest that between 2 percent and 8 percent of sexual assault complaints are false.“Also, there was a galvanizing movement around the country of securing change on those topics, and so it prompted more people to feel safe coming forward,” Lhamon said.“Over too many decades, sexual harassment and sexual violence have been categories of shame for people who have experienced them, and it has been hard for them to come forward.”two rulings that set standards for when schools and colleges can be held liable under Title IX for failing to prevent student-on-student and teacher-on-student sexual harassment and assault.
Under President Trump, however, advocates for sexual-assault victims are on the defensive.