Along with 17 other attorneys general (AG), Maryland AG Brian Frosh urged United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to pause regulations on Title IX rules governing how sexual violence cases are handed by colleges. The jointly signed letter depicts how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted daily life for many Americans and the need for agencies to prioritize resources in order to slow the spread.
In 2018, Secretary DeVos published draft rules concerning Title IX, drifting from the guidance from the Obama administration the previous year. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget had scheduled to discuss the release of the rules through mid-April, before the U.S. Education Department unveiled the final version.
From the Letter:
This unprecedented pandemic—and the necessary steps our country is taking to mitigate and minimize its harms—has placed a significant strain on our schools and our students. With school resources already stretched thin, now is not the time to require school administrators, faculty, and staff to review new, complex Title IX regulations, revise their schools’ policies in response, and communicate these changes to students and parents. The changes outlined in the proposed rule would take a great deal of an institution’s time, resources, and effort in the best of circumstances. But in the midst of a national health emergency, the burden placed on schools would be untenable and ultimately counterproductive to student safety. Instead, educational resources should be preserved at this time to focus on providing education and other critical services for our students.
Finalizing the proposed rule now would also cause significant confusion about ongoing Title IX complaints and investigations, which have already been disrupted by the sudden closures and social distancing requirements. During this crisis, schools will need the flexibility to fashion and revise investigation, resolution, and grievance procedures on an ongoing basis, in order to carry out Title IX’s mandate in the manner that best addresses the impact of the pandemic and the needs of their school populations and communities. And if the regulations are finalized as proposed, then some new legal obligations—such as the proposed requirement for all higher education institutions to hold live hearings with all parties and witnesses present—would be both impossible and unsafe.
The American Council on Education (ACE) also wrote to Secretary DeVox requesting a delay in the implementation saying campuses just do not have the capacity to implement these proposals.