DeVos says new Title IX rules boost due process, advocates say they deny victims

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Picture of Betsy DeVos

US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks during the fifth meeting of the Federal Commission on School Safety, focusing on the best practices for school building security, active shooter training for schools and practitioner experience with school-based threat assessment, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House in Washington, DC, August 16, 2018. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON D.C. — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday announced formal rules for how colleges and schools are to define and investigate sexual harassment and assault cases.

The new regulations establish how schools are to handle sexual misconduct cases under the federal law Title IX, including laying out a series of procedures for reporting cases and provisions that allow those accused to question evidence and cross-examine accusers.

DeVos had vowed two years ago to overhaul the Obama-era guidance on campus sexual assault, arguing that the policy denies due process to the accused.

Since the new rules were first proposed, the department under DeVos has said it is trying to strike a balance that is fair to all parties.

“Too many students have lost access to their education because their school inadequately responded when a student filed a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual assault,” DeVos said in a statement Wednesday. “This new regulation requires schools to act in meaningful ways to support survivors of sexual misconduct, without sacrificing important safeguards to ensure a fair and transparent process.”

Kenneth Marcus, the assistant secretary of the department’s Office for Civil Rights, said that the new regulation is a “game-changer” and “establishes that schools and colleges must take sexual harassment seriously.”

“It marks the end of the false dichotomy of either protecting survivors, while ignoring due process, or protecting the accused, while disregarding sexual misconduct,” he said in a statement. “There is no reason why educators cannot protect all of their students — and under this regulation there will be no excuses for failing to do so.”

Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, however, said “if this rule goes into effect, survivors will be denied their civil rights and will get the message loud and clear that there is no point in reporting assault.”

The new rules are set to go into effect in August. Read them on the U.S. Department of Education Proposed Title IX Regulation Fact Sheet.

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