In light of shifting federal guidance and heightened awareness of sexual harassment, school districts should be on high alert with respect to their internal Title IX policies, staff, and training.  Otherwise, they may face complaints with the Department of Education or litigation surrounding the incidents of alleged sex or gender discrimination, sexual harassment, or interpersonal violence.

Interested in learning more about the shifting Title IX landscape in K-12 public education? If you are a Husch Blackwell client or a member of the Council of Great City Schools, join us this Wednesday, November 29, at 2:30 Eastern Daylight Time for a complimentary continuing legal education webinar. Click here to register.

One of the topics that will be discussed is recent Title IX litigation involving school districts.  For instance, Whitaker By Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified Sch. Dist. No. 1 Bd. of Educ., 858 F.3d 1034 (7th Cir. 2017), involved a transgender high school student who sued a school district, claiming that the district’s refusal to allow him to use boys’ restrooms violated his rights under Title IX.  The Seventh Circuit held that a transgender plaintiff can state a claim under Title IX for sex discrimination on the basis of sex-stereotyping.  The Court found that the student demonstrated a likelihood for success on the merits of his Title IX claim and affirmed the denial of school district’s motion to dismiss.

We also will address in detail  the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR’) September 22, 2017 Dear Colleague Letter and Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct, which withdrew the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter on Sexual Violence and the 2014 Q&A on Title IX and Sexual Violence issued by the Obama administration.  While the accompanying Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct restates OCR’s general view that Title IX requires school districts to respond to reported sexual misconduct, there are several substantial differences related to interim measures, investigation timelines, confidentiality, notice, standard of proof, and appeals. School districts should be cognizant of these changes when establishing, updating and implementing Title IX policies.