Compliance Audits – How to Prevent Major Title IX Issues

By: Jim Newberry, Peter F. Lake

Published: February 2, 2021

Institutions of Higher Education need to consider new approaches to Title IX compliance. We recommend proactive, periodic, non-incident related, and targeted operational compliance audits to get in front of Title IX issues before they become issues.

Consider just one recent situation. Currently, there is an outside audit being conducted regarding Louisiana State University’s handling of sexual misconduct complaints. Inter alia, concerns have been raised as to the effect of an athletics staff member improperly instructing students to report their sexual misconduct allegations to a senior associate athletic director instead of to the University’s Title IX office, as required by University policy. To the extent that University officials did not take the appropriate action to correct the mishandling of complaints, LSU faces serious consequences.

LSU’s situation demonstrates that it is not enough for an institution simply to have compliant policies or even highly trained staff. Even if a sexual misconduct policy meets all compliance requirements, operational failures can result in major compliance and litigation problems. After-the-fact operational audits are purely therapeutic: the damage is done. Do you know where your systems are most operationally vulnerable?

Steptoe & Johnson recommends a preventative solution – periodic, targeted internal audits of Title IX operations. These internal audits make it possible for an institution to improve operational compliance, prevent prolonged operational error in handling sexual misconduct complaints, and efficiently resolve any compliance issues before they mature into serious problems. Acting preventatively is key in saving an institution from experiencing the painful and costly remediation of preventable errors in Title IX systems operation.

Steptoe & Johnson attorneys, with extensive litigation and operational compliance experience, are here to walk you through how this process might work best for your institution. Please contact any member of our Higher Education Team to find out how a compliance audit operates and discuss its many benefits.

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