OCR Publishes Additional Interpretation Regarding 2020 Title IX Amendments

Published: July 27, 2021

An interpretive “Questions and Answers” directive (Q&A) related to amendments made to Title IX regulations in 2020 has been published by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education. This informational resource offers additional clarification to institutions concerning the appropriate application of the recent amendments to Title IX regulations.

According to the document, its purpose is to “describe OCR’s interpretation of schools’ responsibilities under Title IX, and the Department’s current implementing regulations related to sexual harassment, as enforced by OCR.” The document goes on to note that the guidance is being offered even while a separate, comprehensive review of Title IX regulations is underway.

The Q&A offers direction on a range of issues that have been the focus of questions following the implementation of new regulations in 2020. These broad topics include direction concerning: how “sexual harassment” is defined and the scope of institutional responsibility; the requirements imposed upon institutions when a complaint is initiated; expectations related to investigatory time frames; hearing process requirements; and the use of informal resolution processes.

Among the key interpretive provisions contained in the Q&A are these:

The Q&A provides institutions with an additional tool in interpreting the 2020 amendments to Title IX regulations. However, many remaining complexities are underscored in the document. If your institution needs assistance in establishing processes consistent with this guidance, contact the Steptoe & Johnson Higher Education Team.

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