Washington Watch: ED releases final Title IX regs

The U.S. Education Department on Friday released final regulations that detail how an institution must respond to sex discrimination to comply with Title IX. The regulations mark a significant shift from the current regulations established by the Trump administration.

The final package answers one of the most pressing questions stakeholders had about the regulations: when will they take effect? The answer: August 1, 2024. This gives community colleges just over three months to undertake substantial employee training, changes to grievance procedures and other aspects of Title IX compliance that the regulations require. Institutions had a similar amount of time to implement the current regulations, and many complained about the serious burden that imposed.

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the rest of the higher education community had requested at least 8 months between publication of the rules and their effective date. But the rules were delayed several times, compressing the amount of time between their eventual release and the start of the next academic year, and the end of the administration’s first term.

First look

A cursory review of the massive regulatory package indicates that few, if any, substantial changes were made to the rules as they were first proposed in 2022. The basic framework remains intact: institutions have a generalized obligation to respond to, address, and remedy all sex discrimination on their campuses. Certain complaints must be addressed through a grievance procedure outlined in the regulations, with even more specific procedural requirements for cases involving students.

However, the rules generally give institutions more flexibility in the procedures they use than the current regulations. Notably, they do not require a live hearing with cross-examination as does the current rule.

The definition of sex discrimination is broader than under current rules, notably including discrimination based on one’s gender identity (a separate rule regarding transgender athletes’ participation in athletics is expected later this year). As under Obama administration guidance, nearly all an institution’s employees will be responsible for reporting possible incidents of discrimination that they are made aware of. 

Most, if not all, of the changes made to the proposed rules in the final package were clarifications, involving topics such as rules for disclosing evidence to parties in a grievance procedure and who has the ability to bring a complaint in certain circumstances.

AACC will provide community colleges with further analysis of the final regulations in the coming days.

About the Author

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