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August 10, 2017

School Districts Should Consider Including Title IX Information in Their Back-To-School Packages


Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education institutions. The federal regulations related to Title IX, as well as California state law, include many "notice obligations" that require California school districts to provide specific and continuous notice regarding the protections provided by Title IX and the school district’s efforts to provide these protections. To meet many of these notice requirements, school districts should consider providing Title IX information with their "back to school" packages for both students and employees.

Particulars of the Law
School districts must circulate written statements confirming that they do not discriminate on the basis of sex in any of the educational programs or activities they operate in accordance with Title IX1. The notice must provide the name and contact information of the institution’s Title IX Coordinator, who must be available to address questions and provide further information regarding Title IX’s protections2.

In addition, to meet their Title IX obligations, school districts must provide notice of their grievance procedures, including where complaints may be filed, for anyone experiencing sex discrimination3. Notice should be provided to applicants for admission and employment, students, parents, employees, and all unions or professional organizations holding collective bargaining or professional agreements4.

Finally, Education Code section 231.5 requires school districts to provide a copy of its written policy on sexual harassment as part of any orientation program conducted for new students at the beginning of each quarter, semester, or summer session, as applicable.

Recommendation
To meet the various notification requirements related to Title IX, school districts can release a Title IX notification guide at the beginning of the school year to students, staff, and the local community. This "notification guide" can include the information discussed above, as well as information regarding the school district’s efforts to comply with Title IX. Specifically, the guide can provide the web address for the District’s Title IX page as required by Education Code section 221.6. This webpage must include: 1) the name and contact information of the institution’s Title IX Coordinator, 2) the rights of students pursuant to Title IX, 3) the responsibilities of the institution under Title IX, 3) a description of how to file a Title IX complaint, and 4) the contact information for the Office for Civil Rights ("OCR"), along with a link to OCR’s complaint website.

The notification package is also a good mechanism to inform the community about the school district’s transgender policy pursuant to Education Code section 221.5. In summary, Section 221.5 requires school districts to allow students to participate in school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records. As discussed in more detail in our
July 12, 2017 Alert, Title IX’s application to transgender students recently changed and is currently different from California law. Consequently, there is often confusion regarding what is allowed and required in California with respect to transgender students. Thus, the notification is a good way to establish the school district’s obligations under California law and direct people with further questions to the Title IX Coordinator.

Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo advises school districts throughout California regarding Title IX compliance. If you have any questions about Title IX obligations or notice requirements and the suggestions discussed above, please contact us.


1 Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34, Section 106.9
2 Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34, Section 106.9
3 U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Title IX Resource Guide (Apr. 2015)
4 Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34, Section 106.9

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