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Investigating Sexual Assaults at School: Changes on the Horizon

Higher Education K-12 Education

We are closely monitoring the U.S. Department of Education’s policy guidance concerning investigations of sexual assaults and sexual violence on school campuses, applicable to both K-12 and higher education institutions throughout the country. Media outlets, including the New York Times, are reporting extensively on the topic today as Secretary Betsy DeVos convenes meetings in the nation’s capital with victims of sexual assault, accused students and their families, and representatives from the education community. 

At the heart of the matter is a 19-page ‘Dear Colleague Letter’ issued by the Obama administration on April 4, 2011. After this DCL was issued (which is still in effect and on the DOE website), the DOE scaled up and broadened its investigations of complaints of sexual assault and sexual violence on school campuses, warning that schools would lose federal funding if they did not comply.

Data compiled and published by the Obama administration in January of 2017 demonstrates the dramatic increase of these investigations over an eight-year period:

Source: The Second Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, January 5, 2017

Stay tuned for more updates on this topic as the situation develops.