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Department of Education Ignored Widespread Support of Obama Administration Title IX Sexual Violence Guidance

Researchers have found that although 99 percent of public comments on Title IX supported Obama’s Dear Colleague Letter on how schools should handle sexual violence claims, the Department of Education rescinded the guidance anyway.

Department of Education Ignored Widespread Support of Obama Administration Title IX Sexual Violence Guidance

Before U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded the 2011 Title XI guidance on the handling of sexual violence claims, she vowed to listen to all sides of the debate. However, this newly released study appears to show that department ignored the overwhelming majority of that feedback.

A new study has found that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) under Secretary Betsy DeVos appears to have actively ignored an overwhelming number of public comments supporting the Obama administration’s 2011 Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) that provided guidance on the enforcement of the sexual violence portion of Title IX in schools.

The 2011 Dear Colleague Letter was issued by the Obama administration after the Center for Public Integrity documented wide-spread and decades-long discrimination by schools and the criminal justice system of sexual assault victims. Most victim advocates believe the 2011 guidance was a significant step forward in addressing these injustices.

In September 2017, Secretary DeVos characterized the Obama Administration’s guidance as a “failed system” that had been “widely criticized.” This was used as a justification for the department to rescind the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter. However, contrary to DeVos’ claims, the Obama administration’s guidance was widely welcomed and supported by an overwhelming majority of the public who responded to the department’s call for public comments on Executive Order 13777, according to a study conducted by Tiffany Buffkin, Nancy Chi Cantalupo, Mariko Cool, & Amanda Orlando of the University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law.

“Of the 12,035 public comments addressing Title IX, 99 percent (n: 11,893) of the commenters filed a comment in support of Title IX, with 97 percent of Title IX supporters (n: 11,528) specifically urging ED to uphold the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter: Sexual Violence (2011 DCL),” the report says. “Only one percent (n: 137) filed comments opposing Title IX, of which 90 percent (n: 123) specifically urged that ED rescind the 2011 DCL. When all the individual comments, as well as the petition and jointly-signed comments, are included, 60,796 expressions of support for Title IX were filed by members of the public, in marked contrast to the 137 comments in opposition,” the study found.

99% of the commenters filed a comment in support of Title IX, with 97% of Title IX supporters specifically urging ED to uphold the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter

Additionally, nearly half (44.5 percent) of the 137 comments opposed to the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter were posted anonymously, while the overwhelming majority (99.1 percent) of those in favor of the Obama administration guidance identified themselves.

Before DeVos rescinded the 2011 guidance, she vowed to listen to all sides of the campus sexual violence debate.

“We will seek public feedback and institutional knowledge and professional expertise and the experience of students to replace the current approach with a workable, fair and effective system,” she said in a statement in September 2017.

However, this newly released study appears to show that DeVos ignored the overwhelming majority of that feedback.

Last month, the New York Times reported that new Title IX sexual misconduct rules were scheduled to be released by the Department of Education this month. Many of those rules are very different or even contradict the guidance provided by the Obama administration.

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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One response to “Department of Education Ignored Widespread Support of Obama Administration Title IX Sexual Violence Guidance”

  1. Steve White says:

    The extremists made a point of sending opposition to DeVos. That does not mean “the public” favored Dear Colleague – which was put in place WITHOUT this process
    But the real bottom line is. Some commentary is a lot more valuable than other commentary. Lawyers writing about colleges beginning to often lose lawsuits brought by men expelled after a Dear Colleague proceeding count for much more than some greshman in Womem’s studies, most likely. That is a good thing. But a yet deeper bottom line – there is no evidence offered that Dear Colleague made anything better. In fact, aftet 50 years of sexual assault activism, the actibisys still claim extremely high rates of assault on campus, so high one could strongly correlate #MeToo action with MORE sexual violence. Of coursr, it is not true, but the fact it is true on paper shows how much lying is going on.

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