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If you have any questions regarding Title IX, contact one of our attorneys at (203) 221-3100.

Title IX Sexual Harassment Policies

School boards and administrators are highly encouraged to thoroughly review the proposed Title IX regulations and related materials. It is advisable to consult with attorneys to make necessary revisions to their policies and procedures. The following highlights from the originally proposed regulations are provided as an overview:

Sexual Harassment Defined

The proposed Title IX regulations will refine the current definition of sexual harassment to include the following:

  1. A school board employee providing an aid, benefit, or service only if the individual participates in unwelcome conduct
  2. Unwanted conduct that results in someone being denied equal access to an educational program
  3. Sexual assault

Although a hostile environment usually necessitates multiple instances of unwelcome conduct, even a single incident of quid pro quo harassment or sexual assault could be considered sexual harassment under the proposed definition.

Knowledge Standard

According to the proposed regulations, a school board must have “actual knowledge” of sexual harassment occurring in an educational program or activity for its response to come under scrutiny. This knowledge is deemed to exist if sexual harassment is reported to a K-12 teacher, Title IX coordinator, or another official authorized to take corrective action.

Investigation Requirement

School boards must investigate each formal complaint of sexual harassment. They must also provide a meaningful response to every reported instance of sexual harassment, even if the reporter opts not to file a formal complaint. Violating Title IX occurs if a school board exhibits “deliberate indifference” in addressing alleged sexual harassment, defined as a response that is “clearly unreasonable” given the circumstances known at the time. Conversely, adhering to policies and procedures in response to a formal complaint of sexual harassment ensures that a school board does not act with deliberate indifference.

Grievances

If an investigation finds evidence of sexual harassment, the accused student or respondent will have the right to a formal or informal hearing where the school board must demonstrate that the harassment occurred. School boards can choose to apply a stricter “clear and convincing evidence” standard of proof, or maintain the current “preponderance of the evidence” standard if it is also used for other violations of the code of conduct that carry the same maximum disciplinary penalties. Importantly, the proposed regulations outline a comprehensive set of rights that must be afforded to both complainants and respondents. These rights include, among others, access to relevant records, the opportunity to present evidence and question witnesses, and the right to consult with an advisor of their choosing.

Remedies

School boards are obligated to offer suitable remedies to maintain or restore a complainant’s access to educational programs or activities, irrespective of the grievance proceedings’ outcome. The proposed regulations outline a comprehensive list of “supportive measures” that may be offered to complainants and respondents throughout the process. These measures include, but are not limited to, leaves of absence, no-contact directives, adjustments to class schedules, and counseling. When implementing remedies or supportive measures, school boards must ensure they are tailored to individual circumstances rather than applying a uniform approach for all cases.

Training and Keeping Records

School boards will need to conduct training for Title IX coordinators, investigators, and other officials on the definition of sexual harassment, as well as on the investigative and grievance procedures. Additionally, under the proposed regulations, school boards will be obligated to establish and keep records documenting all Title IX sexual harassment investigations, which may be accessible to both complainants and respondents.

Maya Murphy P.C. has proudly been included in the 2024 Edition of Best Law Firms®, ranked among the top firms in the nation. In addition, Managing Partner Joseph C. Maya has been selected to The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 for his work in Employment Law and Education Law in Connecticut. Recognition in Best Lawyers® is awarded to firms and attorneys who demonstrate excellence in the industry and is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor.

Our firm in Westport, Connecticut serves clients with legal assistance all over the state, including the towns of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bethel, Branford, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Cheshire, Danbury, Darien, Derby, East Haven, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middlebury, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, Newton, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Orange, Oxford, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Seymour, Shelton, Sherman, Southbury, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, Waterbury, West Haven, Weston, Westport, Wilton, and Woodbridge. In addition to assisting clients in Connecticut, our firm handles education law matters in New York as well.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney about a legal matter, please contact Joseph C. Maya and the other experienced attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or JMaya@Mayalaw.com to schedule a free initial consultation today.