On May 26, 2023, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced it had entered into a resolution agreement after conducting a Title IX compliance review of the Mingo County School District (Mingo County Schools).
OCR determined that the district violated Title IX by failing to do the following:
- issue a nondiscrimination notice,
- identify a Title IX Coordinator before August 2020,
- adopt and publish grievance procedures that comply with the regulations, and
- properly maintain records in accordance with the regulations.
OCR also raised additional concerns that were not described as violations, including that District staff were not adequately trained on Title IX, and that the District did not respond equitably to complaints of sexual assault during certain academic years.
There are a number of reminders and suggestions that institutions might take away from reading OCR’s letter to the District, including the following:
- Use the title “Title IX Coordinator.” Even if the individual in that role has another broader title, such as Director of Nondiscrimination, add Title IX Coordinator to that title. Here, the role “Anti-Harassment Compliance Officer” did not suffice for OCR.
- Streamline your policies to the extent appropriate, and ensure Title IX personnel understand which policies and procedures apply based on the parties involved and the conduct alleged. OCR found twenty-five separate policies addressing nondiscrimination, sexual harassment, sexual violence, and sexual misconduct, leading to difficulties in implementation and application.
- Review some cases and make sure they follow your policies. Your policies should say what you do, but then you need to do what they say. OCR found here that the District’s processing of complaints did not align with its policies.
- Update your trainings to ensure they adequately explain your institution’s policies for handling complaints of sexual harassment.
- Develop a procedure for documenting the date and substance of each report and any actions taken in response.
The resolution agreement between OCR and the District requires expected elements, including designating and training a Title IX Coordinator, publishing a nondiscrimination statement, revising policies and procedures, reviewing complaints for a period of time and addressing inadequacies in their processing, and conducting training.
Like other recent resolutions, the agreement also requires the District to conduct a climate survey of students and parents to understand knowledge of sexual harassment, experience with sexual harassment, and awareness of District policies and procedures.
The experts at Grand River Solutions will continue to follow and report on the OCR rulings. For more information on climate surveys, click here.