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Putting the Teeth Into Title IX

Putting the Teeth Into Title IX

New State Laws Seek to Enforce Nondiscrimination in Education

On June 23, 1972, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 was signed into law. Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity, including both K-12 and higher education. The objective behind Title IX is to avoid using federal funds to support sex discrimination in education and to provide individual people with real protection against those practices. The law itself is brief and consists of only 37 words. To ensure compliance with the law, the Federal government has been providing guidance for its application since the issuance of the law. Title IX has impacted higher education in a big way, and now some states are starting to adopt laws to further enforce nondiscrimination in education.

Texas is one state that is actively enforcing nondiscrimination in education. During the 86th Legislative Regular Session, three noteworthy bills were signed into Texas State law. First, SB 212 went into effect September 1, 2019. SB 212 requires higher education employees to “promptly report” certain incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking to the institution’s designated Title IX coordinator or deputy Title IX coordinator. Failure to report can lead to administrative penalties, termination of employment and potential criminal penalties. The criminal penalty portion of the law went into effect January 1, 2020.

Additionally, HB 1735 was signed into law effective September 1, 2019. HB 1735 reiterates what federal law requires regarding institutional obligations for addressing instances of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking that involve students and employees. It also provides for administrative enforcement from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to monitor compliance with the law. If institutions aren’t in “substantial compliance,” THECB can impose financial penalties up to $2 million.

The last new law to mention is HB 449, which also went into effect on September 1, 2019. This law is all about placing transcript notations when a student is “ineligible to re-enroll in the institution for a reason other than academic or financial reason.” HB 449 also states that if a student withdraws from school during a pending disciplinary process that may result in the student becoming ineligible, the process is prohibited from ending until a “final determination of responsibility is reached.”

Unfunded mandates generally create more work for institutions. However, TCC is definitely up for the challenge. In preparation for compliance with these new state laws, multidisciplinary groups from across the District have been assembled. Last semester, the Title IX Office spent significant time facilitating information sessions to inform employees about the new reporting obligations. During the spring semester, the Title IX Office worked to update policies and procedures and inform students about the new changes. Ultimately, the goal is to be able to work and learn in a healthy and safe environment. Every member of the District plays a role in ensuring TCC is free from sex and gender-based harassment.

To learn more, visit Title IX & Sexual Misconduct on the College website.