PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Stephen Coleman

Telephone: 301-801-0608

Email: scoleman@saveservices.org

States Get ‘Green Light’ to Reassert Control Over Higher Education Policies

WASHINGTON / May 1, 2017 – A recent White House Executive Order instructs the Department of Education to implement sweeping changes in order to “protect and preserve State and local control” over the “administration and personnel” of all federally supported schools, including universities and colleges (1). The Order represents a dramatic departure from the command-and-control approach that the federal agency utilized under previous Administrations.

The Executive Order is expected to have wide-ranging effects, including on the numerous Department of Education Dear Colleague Letters that condition federal funding on compliance with its interpretations of the Title IX law, originally enacted in 1972 to end sex discrimination.

Many of these directives relate to campus sexual assault policies and programs:

  1. On April 4, 2011, the Department issued a Dear Colleague Letter on sexual violence that mandated all allegations of campus sexual assault be investigated and adjudicated by campus disciplinary committees.
  2. On April 24, 2015, the Department issued a directive stating that all school schools “must designate at least one employee to coordinate their efforts to comply with and carry out their responsibilities under Title IX.” (2)

The Executive Order draws its authority from earlier laws:

  1. The Department of Education Organization Act of 1979 states that the Department of Education is not authorized to exercise any “control” over the “administration or personnel of any educational institution.” (Section 103) (3)
  2. The General Education Provisions Act of 1979 uses even stronger language, enunciating a “Prohibition Against Federal Control of Education” (Section 438) (4)

The Executive Order instructs the Department of Education to “withdraw or modify any guidance documents pursuant to this subsection” within 300 days.

Citations:

  1. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/04/26/presidential-executive-order-enforcing-statutory-prohibitions-federal
  2. https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201504-title-ix-coordinators.pdf
  3. https://legcounsel.house.gov/Comps/Department%20Of%20Education%20Organization%20Act.pdf
  4. https://legcounsel.house.gov/Comps/General%20Education%20Provisions%20Act.pdf

SAVE (Stop Abusive and Violent Environments) is working for practical and effective solutions to campus sexual assault: www.saveservices.org