Feds Ask Court to Delay Title IX Case

August 14, 2017

Attorneys for the Department of Education asked a federal district court Friday to hold off on a challenge to Obama administration Title IX guidelines for 90 days while it completes its own review of the guidance.

The guidance, issued in a 2011 Dear Colleague letter, advised colleges and universities that they should do more to prevent and investigate sexual harassment and assault. Last month, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos met with a number of outside groups and students to receive input on the guidelines as well as responses to the issue more broadly. DeVos has not committed to any course of action on the guidelines but said that those meetings made it clear "there's work to be done." The department has said it is continuing to review comments and input from stakeholders and policy experts on potential changes to Title IX enforcement guidelines.

Last year, a former University of Virginia student sued the department after he was found responsible for sexual assault and banned from campus after graduating. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which sponsored the lawsuit, argued the Dear Colleague letter impeded campuses from affording due process to accused students. In August, Oklahoma Wesleyan University joined the lawsuit, becoming the first higher ed institution to challenge the preponderance of evidence standard set out by the department for adjudicating sexual assault cases.

In light of the change in administrations since the lawsuit was filed, and the department's ongoing review of the guidelines, attorneys for the department asked the court to hold further rulings in abeyance.

"Defendants, including the secretary, have been engaged in ongoing discussions with students, parents, educational institutions, advocacy groups and experts to learn about their experiences and to hear their views of how the department can best fulfill its obligations under Title IX," attorneys for the department wrote.

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