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Title IX

DeVos Moves to Strengthen K-12 Title IX Enforcement DeVos Moves to Strengthen K-12 Title IX Enforcement The Education Department is reviews in districts across the country to examine how sexual assault cases are handled after a recent dramatic rise in reports from schools. By Lauren Camera, Senior Education Writer Feb. 26, 2020, at 4:11 p.m. Education Secretary Betsy Devos during an interview on “Mornings

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 20: Anchor Maria Bartiromo interviews Education Secretary Betsy Devos during "Mornings With Maria" at Fox Business Network Studios on February 20, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

Education Secretary Betsy Devos during an interview on “Mornings With Maria” at Fox Business Network Studios, Feb. 20, 2020, in New York City. (JOHN LAMPARSKI/GETTY IMAGES)

OFFICIALS FROM THE Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights are launching a Title IX compliance review in schools across the country – a response to an alarming increase in reports of sexual assault in elementary, middle and high schools and what Secretary Betsy DeVos is calling “the tragic rise of sexual misconduct complaints in our nation’s K-12 campuses.”

“We hear all too often about innocent children being sexually assaulted by an adult at school,” DeVos said in a statement. “That should never happen. No parent should have to think twice about their child’s safety while on school grounds.”

Authorities reported approximately 9,700 incidents of sexual assault, rape or attempted rape in public elementary and secondary schools during the 2015-2016 school year, according to the most recent available data from the Education Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection.

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“The number of K-12 sexual harassment and violence complaints filed with OCR is nearly fifteen times greater than it was a decade ago,” Kenneth Marcus, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, said in a statement. “This disturbing change is a matter of serious concern and requires immediate attention.”

Going forward, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights will conduct compliance reviews in schools and districts to examine how sexual assault cases are handled – including sexual incidents involving teachers and school staff – and work with school districts to identify and correct compliance concerns.

The office will also focus on increasing awareness of the issue of sexual assault in K-12 schools as well as conduct reviews on the quality of data submitted by school districts into the department’s Civil Rights Data Collection. In addition, it’s proposing to collect more detailed data on sexual assault to include things like whether incidents were perpetrated by school staff or school personnel.

“Through compliance reviews and raising public awareness about what’s actually happening in too many of our nation’s schools, we can build on the good work we’re already doing to enforce Title IX and protect students,” DeVos said. “We cannot rest until every student can learn in a safe, nurturing environment where their civil rights are protected.”

The announcement comes in the wake of a sweeping investigation by the Office for Civil Rights that uncovered 2,800 student-on-student sexual harassment complaints and 280 adult-on-student complaints at more than 400 schools in Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district.

The decision also follows a recent announcement by the Education Department that it’s conducting a study on the most effective ways states and school districts are combating what’s known as “pass the trash” – a process in which school districts, schools and school employees help an individual who has engaged in or been accused of sexual misconduct with a student or minor find a new job in a different state or school district. The practice is prohibited under the federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, but is known to occur anyway.

“Outlawing the despicable act of ‘passing the trash’ was a major step toward keeping our children safe from predators while they’re at school,” Sen. Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican who has been vocal on the issue, said in a statement. “But it will only work if each state and school district is in compliance with the law.”