WHAT BVSD IS MISSING
There are several key components of making a strong Title IX policy that BVSD is missing. The following components have been shown to the district, yet there have been no changes. We hope to continue pushing the district until these changes are made so that the Title IX policy will be more comprehensive and supportive of survivors.
Full-Time, Independent Title IX Coordinator
Under the previous administration, The 2015 Dear Colleague Letter stated "Educational institutions that receive Federal financial assistance are prohibited under Title IX from subjecting any person to discrimination on the basis of sex.” Title IX authorizes the Department of Education to issue regulations to effectuate Title IX.3 Under those regulations, a recipient must designate at least one employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under Title IX and the Department’s implementing regulations.4 This position may not be left vacant; a recipient must have at least one person designated and actually serving as the Title IX coordinator at all times” (3). It then goes on to state "...for example, the Title IX coordinator may not also sit on a disciplinary board or serve as legal counsel to the college (or school)”. The reason legal counsel is explicitly stated is because sitting on legal counsel while being the Title IX Coordinator can create a conflict of interest. This is because legal council could potentially represent the school in alleged Title IX violations. The letter continues on to emphasize “However, when designating a Title IX coordinator, a recipient should be careful to avoid designating an employee whose other job responsibilities may create a conflict of interest. For example, designating a disciplinary board member, general counsel, dean of students, superintendent, principal, or athletics director as the Title IX coordinator may pose a conflict of interest”(3). Despite all of this, Betsy DeVos redacted this section of Title IX in 2017 so schools no longer have the obligation to have a full-time, independent Title IX Coordinator. However, just because BVSD is not in violation of the law does not mean that they are doing the right thing to protect survivors. Many of the errors and gaps that were in BVSD's Title IX policy would have been noticed and corrected if there had been a full time officer. There have also been complaints of long investigation processes and months of time pass by before survivors receive their Bill of Rights and other information which could have been solved if there was a full-time coordinator. Just as we are holding BVSD to a higher standard on DeVos's Final Title IX Rule, we expect them to do more than just the bare minimum in choosing a Title IX Coordinator. Survivors at BVSD deserve to be a priority.
2. Survivors Bill of Rights
Every institution is required to publish and give survivors their bill of rights right after a complaint is made. The survivor's bill of rights is very difficult to find on the BVSD website. BVSD created a combined "Violence Prevention" webpage that encompasses violence, bullying, dating violence, and sexual violence. Each of these topics, while similar, should have their own individual webpages so more information and resources can be listed under each one. The survivor's bill of rights is called "Title IX Rights" on the BVSD webpage but is not even listed under the "Title IX Rights" section. The bill of rights is at the very bottom of the preface of the sexual violence section. In accordance with KnowYourIX.org, the Title IX Rights listed for BVSD is missing the following points:
"The right to a personal supporter — In addition to an attorney, survivors should have a right to a personal supporter (such as a friend, advisor, or parent) present at any meetings or hearings involved in the disciplinary process.
The right to be free from retaliation by the school, the accused, and/or their friends, family, and acquaintances. Title IX prohibits retaliation.
The right to participate, or decline to participate, in the investigative, criminal justice, and/or campus justice process free from any pressure or influence from college officials.
The right to review all available evidence in the case file with adequate time to consider and respond.
The right to be treated with dignity, sensitivity, and fairness throughout the process.
The document should also include all of the resources and procedural protections recommended in other parts of this guide.
The right to choose to submit evidence during the fact-finding stage demonstrating the impact of the violation, including but not limited to medical and/or counseling records, changes to a student’s grades and other academic performance.
The right to receive written or electronic notice, provided in advance and reasonable under the circumstances, of any meeting or hearing they are required or are eligible to attend.
The right to exclude irrelevant mental health history".
BVSD also states in the Notification of Title IX Rights that a survivor has the "Right to receive information on available resources such as counseling, advocacy, and mental health support". To make the survivor's bill of rights even better, BVSD should explicitly list resources and how to access them, including confidential support for survivors.
3. Website Accessibility and Explaining How to Navigate Policies
"The Final Rule expands a school’s obligations to ensure its educational community knows how to report to the Title IX Coordinator" (2). The Final Rule also states "a report may be made at any time, including during non-business hours, by using the telephone number or e-mail address, or by mail to the office address, listed for the Title IX Coordinator". The BVSD website has a three sentence "How to Report" section under their sexual violence section of the Violence Prevention webpage. This section covers who to report sexual violence to but doesn't show how to actually make a report. The AC-E2 complaint form is not explained anywhere so survivors are left to figure out this process on their own. The sexual violence policies are extremely hard to navigate if you do not know the ins and outs of Title IX policy because there is not one concise document that explains the AC policies and how to use them. BVSD needs to create a single document explaining how/where to file a complaint, where to can locate the notice of non-discrimination, survivor's bill of rights, grievance procedure, and counseling resources. You should not have to be a Title IX expert to locate these critical documents.
Dear Colleague Letter 2015: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201504-title-ix-coordinators.pdf
Title IX Final Rule Overview: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/titleix-overview.pdf
BVSD Violence Prevention Page: https://www.bvsd.org/parents-students/health-and-wellness/health-promotion-and-prevention/dating-violence-prevention