Update: The VRLC Files Lawsuit Against the Department of Education
On June 10, 2020, the Victim Rights Law Center (VRLC) along with co-plaintiffs Equal Rights Advocates, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, and Legal Voice filed a lawsuit against Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education, challenging the new Title IX rules released last month. This lawsuit is critical for the K-12 and campus sexual assault survivors that we serve in Massachusetts and in Oregon, as well as survivors in every state. We are filing this lawsuit to ensure survivors are not silenced and can safely access their education. Plaintiffs are represented by the National Women's Law Center along with co-counsel Morrison & Foerster LLP.
“Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education are using a global pandemic to camouflage the release of the final Title IX regulations to ensure every step of the reporting and adjudication process presents barriers for victims of sexual assault. What we know for sure is that Secretary DeVos’s new rules will lead to a decrease in campus sexual assault reports. Victims will have little to gain by coming forward, especially students who are at the greatest risk for sexual violence – Black women, Native Women and LGTBQI survivors. Once again the Department of Education attempts to silence victims and the VRLC responds with a lawsuit to fight for the rights of student survivors.” - Stacy Malone, Executive Director of the Victim Rights Law Center
Click here for the full press release from the National Women's Law Center.
The VRLC'S Statement on the Final Title IX Rule
On May 6, 2020, the Department of Education released its final Title IX rule, codifying into law a myriad of provisions governing how K-12 districts and institutions of higher education respond to sexual assault. This final rule comes after the Department released its Notice of Proposed Rule-Making (NPRM) in November 2018, prompting thousands of public comments about how misguided, harmful, and dangerous these changes would be for survivors.
This rule remains dangerous for survivors and undermines all that Title IX was intended to do. It ultimately reflects the Department’s overarching priority of expanding protections for respondents while narrowing protections for survivors. Among the most significant provisions is the requirement that university hearings include cross-examination. These “cross-examinations” will be conducted without the rules of evidence or the expertise of a judge overseeing the hearing. Many students, including both survivors and accused students, do not have access to attorneys, which means that such cross-examinations will be conducted by individuals without any legal training or experience. This will have a devastating impact on survivors, especially those from marginalized communities. Through the issuance of this final rule, the Department has established even more barriers for survivors.
The VRLC will be providing additional resources for survivors and institutions, as well as opportunities for further discussion about it in the coming weeks. For survivors seeking full and equal access to education, please know that we remain committed to advocating for your civil rights; indeed, this work is as crucial as ever.