The Final Title IX Regs Will Be Out In March! Or Will They?
Remember those Title IX regulations that were supposed to come out in May/June 2023…. and then in October 2023? Well, recent updates to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) website regarding the Department of Education’s Title IX sex-based discrimination (including harassment) rule and the Title IX rule on gender identity and athletics are now projecting a final rule publication date of March 2023. Is that a realistic deadline, and what should your educational institution be doing now to prepare?
Are They For Real This Time?
You know the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”? What happens if you get fooled three times? Because I think many of us in the Title IX world are a little skittish about buying this “March 2024” projection when we have already prepared–twice–to get our houses ready to implement the new rules, just to have ED say “Oops. Never mind!”.
How likely is it that the Department’s projection this time will stick? The good news is that now that ED has transmitted the final rules to OIRA (as required by Executive Order 12866), the March release date is a lot less speculative than the previous guesses were. OIRA must now review the rule, including providing feedback to ED about changes it believes are necessary. OIRA can take up to 120 days for that review. If OIRA takes the full amount of available time, that would bring us to April 2024. So, although the March 2024 date is firmer than those provided before, there is still a decent chance we won’t see final rules published in March 2024.
What Timing Should You Plan For?
Regardless of whether the final rule is published in March or June 2024, we are likely looking at an August implementation deadline. Educational institutions should therefore plan for a summer rollout of new policies, procedures, and training to come into compliance with the new rule over the summer. Hopefully, a summer rollout will not be as stressful as it was in 2020 when we were facing a global pandemic. But there is no doubt that the more work you can get done this spring, the easier the summer will be.
What Should You Do Now?
What can you do now to pave the smoothest path for rolling out the new rules in Summer 2024? Here are some tips from our blog post from earlier this year about preparing for the new rules (which is still a useful read if you’re seeking more information. You can also watch an on-demand video with more tips, here!):
- Schedule a meeting with leadership. You should ensure your leadership understands you will need time and funding for the training, policy updates, and necessary templates discussed below.
- Schedule training for summer 2024. Under the new rules, you will need to train all members of the “Title IX team” (coordinators, investigators, decision-makers, appellate decision-makers, and informal resolution facilitators) on the new rules. You will also need to train all employees on identifying and reporting sex-based discrimination and all confidential employees, as defined by the new rules.
- Begin reviewing policies, procedures, and handbooks/website language. Doing so will allow you to thoughtfully make the customizations allowed under the proposed rules while also providing your community with more than the bare minimum under the new Title IX rules.
- Prepare necessary templates. Like the current rules, you will need a comprehensive documentation system to keep team members on track. Thompson & Horton’s Title IX Guidebook is the “just right” solution for this system, providing an easy-to-follow checklist with links to the forms, checklists, and other tools that are available when you need them and without shuffling through a pile of disconnected documents to try to find the right one.
Starting on these small steps now can have a huge impact later. For information about the many resources Thompson & Horton offers, including training, templates for and reviews of policies and procedures, and our Title IX Guidebook, contact me or any other member of the T&H Title IX team.