Federal court denies request to stop Title IX regulations

On Aug. 12, 2020, in Pennsylvania v. Devos, a federal district court denied a request to stop the Title IX regulations implementation of the published by the U.S. Department of Education last May. The rules contain specific requirements for inclusion in the processes for investigating and resolving allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault in educational institutions that receive federal financial assistance. Title IX applies to K-12 and postsecondary schools, and prohibits discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment, and mandates that the district adopt and publish complaint procedures.

Seventeen states, including California, and the District of Columbia had sued the U.S. Department of Education to stop the implementation of the new Title IX regulations. The states asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction to postpone the effective date of the regulations and prohibit their enforcement pending the outcome of the lawsuit. With the court’s decision denying the preliminary injunction, the regulations took effect as scheduled on Aug. 14, 2020.

The district court wrote in its opinion that “it may be that the [Title IX rules are] overly prescriptive and that a Rule that grants Plaintiffs more flexibility to administer discipline would more properly balance the mandate to effectuate Title IX and the needs that are unique to the K-12 environment. But the Court, of course, ‘is not to substitute its judgment for that of the [U.S. Department of Education],’ . . . nor to ask ‘whether a regulatory decision is the best one possible or even whether it is better than the alternatives,’ . . . The Court cannot conclude that Plaintiffs are likely to show that the Final Rule is arbitrary and capricious in the context of K-12 schools.”

While the states will continue to challenge the validity of the regulations before the court, with the court’s denial of the preliminary injunction, the regulations are now in effect for school districts.

CSBA has updated its model board policies to reflect the new Title IX rules. For additional information, see revised BP and AR 5145.7 – Sexual Harassment and new AR 5145.71 – Title IX Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedures.