DOs and DON’Ts for K-12 Building Administrators for Reports of Sexual Harassment

By Thompson & Horton’s Title IX Team

The 2020 Title IX Rules provide detailed training requirements for school district personnel who serve in formal roles in the Title IX grievance process, including the Title IX Coordinator, investigators, decisionmakers, appeal officers, and informal resolution facilitators. In their efforts to ensure all designated Title IX personnel are trained, schools may overlook the need to educate and train K-12 campus personnel—especially principals, assistant principals, counselors, and teachers—about the rules of the road when it comes to responding to allegations of sex-based misconduct, including harassment in schools.

K-12 campus employees are often the first to learn about allegations of sex-based misconduct at their schools. To their credit, building administrators usually work quickly to address problems at their campus. In some instances, campus administrators have already investigated allegations of sex-based misconduct and taken disciplinary action before the Title IX Coordinator is ever called. Although a proactive response to reported misconduct is laudable in many cases, in the context of a school’s Title IX obligations these actions can be the basis of an OCR complaint or other Title IX dispute.

Campus personnel at K-12 schools need to know what they should do and what they should not do when they learn or receive a report about potential sex-based misconduct, including harassment, at their schools. Here are some DOs and DON’Ts to get this essential conversation started. You can also use this convenient flyer to drive home these important tips. We recommend having copies on hand for campus personnel, including principals, assistant principals, counselors, and teachers, so that they can refer to it whenever they receive information about alleged sex-based misconduct at their schools.