During the 60-day comment period that ended January 30, 2019, individuals and organizations submitted over 100,000 comments in response to the Department of Education’s proposed rules regarding sexual harassment and Title IX.
Below is an excerpt from the SSAIS comment, which focused on the deleterious effects of the proposed rules on K-12 students.
Kenneth L. Marcus
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington DC, 20202
Re: ED Docket No. ED-2018-OCR-0064, RIN 1870-AA14, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance.
Dear Mr. Marcus,
On behalf of the national nonprofit Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (SSAIS) I wish to voice our organization’s strong opposition to the proposal by the Department of Education (the Department) to amend rules implementing Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972 (Title IX), as published in the Notice of Public Rulemaking (NPRM) on November 29, 2018.
For the past four years, SSAIS has been educating K-12 students, families, and schools about the right to an equal education free from sexual harassment. We hear regularly from students and families across the country how their schools have mishandled sexual harassment complaints. These first-hand accounts paint an alarming and disturbing picture of traumatized young students whose educations have been derailed because school officials ignore, deny, or mismanage reported sexual misconduct.
I also speak from personal experience. Our family’s life was devastated when our high-school age daughter was sexually assaulted by a classmate on a multi-day school field trip. Her school’s failure to recognize her federally mandated Title IX rights, to acknowledge her report of sexual assault as required, to promptly and equitably investigate, to prevent retaliation, and to treat her with basic human dignity has been life-scaring beyond imagination. Our efforts to hold those accountable were met with avoidance, denial, misinformation, falsification, and violations at every juncture.
From our family’s and organization’s experience, we believe the proposed rules will further harm K-12 students who report sexual harassment to their schools and discourage victimized students from coming forward. As explained in our analysis below, the result of the proposed rules on K-12 students will be to worsen sex discrimination in K-12 schools, precisely in contradiction to the spirit of Title IX.