The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has reached an agreement with Wittenberg University after finding that the university’s handling of complaints arising from reports of sexual assault violated federal law.
The probe, under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, was based on complaints filed in July 2011 and April 2013, alleging that the university failed to respond promptly and equitably to reports that the students had been sexually assaulted.
Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.
The agreement, for the first time, indicates both sexual assaults involved student athletes and one occurred at “a party hosted by members of a University athletics team.”
“While the oral discussions with OCR over the past six years provided no indication of the vast majority of the matters addressed in this letter, and while we disagree with the findings and could have continued to pursue our position with OCR, we wanted to do what was in the best interest of Wittenberg,” Casey Gill, dean of students and Title IX coordinator at Wittenberg University, said in a statement.
“We therefore agreed to the resolution we negotiated with OCR. The OCR investigation team requested some minor, technical changes to the way our policies are written, which we will address immediately. This resolution concludes a process that began in 2011, and we are grateful to be able to move forward.”
The federal investigation included reviewing the university’s policies and procedures, reviewing more than three years of files maintained by the university in its investigation of Title IX complaints and conducting on-site visits and interviews of students and university staff.
Following its investigation, the federal office found that the university’s violations of Title IX included failing to have policies and procedures that provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints, to treat students equitably when responding to complaints, and to provide a notice of nondiscrimination that is compliant with Title IX.
The decision was announced Friday by the U.S. Department of Education.