2011 Dear Colleague Letter Critic Adam Kissel Hired by Dept. of Education

Kissel will head a department focused on improving the inclusivity of college campuses.

The U.S.  Department of Education has hired Adam Kissel, a prominent critic of the Office for Civil Right’s 2011 Dear Colleague Title IX guidance, to serve in a role focusing on inclusivity in higher education.

Kissel will begin serving as the department’s deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs June 19.

In his new role, Kissel will head a department that focuses on broadening access to higher education for minorities, students with disabilities and other groups of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, reports chronicle.com.

Kissel, who currently works as a senior program officer at the Charles Koch Foundation, was working at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, when the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter was issued. FIRE opposes the 2011 Title IX guidance and is backing a lawsuit attempting to repeal it.

Kissel left FIRE in 2012 after working for the organization for five years.

The 2011 Dear Colleague Letter stipulated that colleges should use the “preponderance of evidence” standard during Title IX disciplinary proceedings to determine if students are responsible for sexual misconduct.

The guidance changed the way schools respond to reports of sexual violence and has led some, including Mr. Kissel, to accuse the federal government of violating accused students’ due process rights.

Kissel has been a vocal critic of the guidance, writing in a 2011 Huffington Post op-ed essay: “How does it make sense to trust campus judiciaries with getting serious crimes right under the lowest standards, when students often are not even allowed to have attorneys or to face their accusers and cross-examine them?”

In February on Twitter, Kissel replied to an article that criticized the concept of affirmative consent with “The next OCR will start to fix this.”

Kissel did not comment on reports of his hiring, and it is unclear if he will play any role in the OCR’s enforcement practices.

University officials have been watching new Education Secretary Betty DeVos closely after she refused to commit to upholding the 2011 Dear Colleague guidance in her confirmation hearing.

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