Washington Watch: AACC, higher ed community file Title IX comments


The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) on Monday filed comments in the U.S. Education Department’s (ED) Title IX rulemaking proceeding, and it joined in broader higher education community comments spearheaded by the American Council on Education.

As previewed last week, AACC focused on aspects of the proposed regulations of particular relevance and concern to community colleges. AACC’s comments were intended to complement the broader higher education letter.

Both letters praised the increased flexibility that institutions would have under the proposed rule in addressing cases of sex discrimination and harassment, compared to the current regulations promulgated by the Trump administration. Both letters also called for ample time for colleges and universities to implement a final rule that will be much different than the current rules. AACC’s letter pointed out the complexities of the proposed rules’ training requirements for community colleges, which employ greater numbers of adjunct faculty and conduct their programs in a wide variety of locations.

The higher education letter seeks clarification and recommends changes to numerous aspects of the proposed regulations that AACC’s did not address, including the definition of “student,” the Title IX coordinator’s scope of responsibilities, and specific components of the grievance procedures. As it did when the regulations now in effect were proposed, the higher education community letter argues that many of the specific requirements in the proposed regulations should not apply in employee cases, which are often addressed under other laws and regulations.

According to Regulations.gov, ED received more than 235,000 individual comments in this proceeding. Nearly 58,000 comments have been posted, possibly indicating that many thousands of comments were identical or nearly identical. Many of the posted comments focused on the expansion of covered sex discrimination to now include discrimination based on one’s gender identity.

ED is required by law to read and respond to all the comments it receives, so it will take the department at least several months to publish a final regulation.

About the Author

Jim Hermes
Jim Hermes is associate vice president of government relations at the American Association of Community Colleges.