Patricia Hamill, Chair of the firm's Title IX, Due Process & Campus Discipline practice, testified virtually on June 8, 2021 before the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Title IX public hearing.
Patricia began by stating she testified "out of concern that the Department will roll back many of the gains made and protections implemented by the 2020 regulations." She emphasized that the "basic fairness requirements" should be retained: "parties in Title IX proceedings must receive, at the least, full and fair notice, a thorough and impartial investigation, and impartial decisionmakers... Similarly, clear provisions allowing informal resolutions should be preserved – not every complaint should lead to a hearing."
During her testimony, Patricia discussed the scope of covered conduct under Title IX and the requirement of live hearings with cross-examination. She agrees that "the Department should reconsider the provisions regarding covered conduct." She also discussed the need to preserve live hearings and cross-examination: "I strongly support allowing the parties’ advisors to conduct the cross-examinations, subject to safeguards to ensure fairness and respectful questioning."
There is one key area where the 2020 regulations should be modified or clarified, as Patricia explained. "The exclusion of prior statements by parties who do not submit to cross-examination is not workable and contradicts well-established evidentiary rules... Decisionmakers should also be allowed to rely on either party’s prior admissions and statements against interest."
Read Patricia's full comment here.
The public hearing is being held from June 7, 2021, to June 11, 2021 so that OCR can gather information for improving enforcement of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The hearing is part of OCR's comprehensive review of the Department's existing regulations and other actions related to Title IX to implement President Biden's March 8 Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.