Education Sec’y DeVos rewrites rules for handling sexual misconduct

Posted: Updated:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced her plan Friday to overhaul the regulations regarding how colleges and universities handle sexual misconduct allegations.

Under current regulations, state schools must investigate all sexual misconduct complaints. Under DeVos' plan only those that are formally filed with specific authorities would require investigation. 

The plan would also narrow the definition of sexual misconduct to “unwelcome conduct on the basis of that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the school's education program or activity."

Those opposed to DeVos' plan say it’s a step in the wrong direction. 

"It’s another example of this administration trying to strip away the rights of women and girls and really take us back 20, 30, 40 years to a time when these crimes were swept under the rug," says Liz Zimmerman, of Westchester NOW. 

With the new regulations, schools would no longer be required to investigate sexual misconduct claims if they occurred off school property. 

DeVos says her plan will ensure fairness and will allow the accused to cross-examine their accusers through an intermediary.

The proposed rules, posted online, are subject to public comment for 60 days. The Education Department will consider the public's response, then decide whether to make the rules final.

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