03.31.20

Murray, Warren, Gillibrand Urge Secretary DeVos to Halt Title IX Rule; Focus on Helping Schools During the COVID-19 Crisis

(Washington, D.C.) –  Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) urged Secretary DeVos not to release the final Title IX rule while K-12 schools and institutions of higher education are grappling with an unprecedented public health crisis. In a letter sent to Secretary DeVos, the Senators expressed their strong opposition to finalizing this rule that will fundamentally change the landscape of how schools are required to respond to incidents of sexual harassment and assault, and instead do everything possible to help schools and colleges navigate the urgent issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“K-12 schools and institutions of higher education face unprecedented uncertainty about the end of this school year and the start of the next school year. The federal government should be doing everything possible to help them navigate these uncertain times. To ask K-12 schools and institutions of higher education to implement in this moment of crisis and extreme uncertainty a rule that, as proposed, would force them to significantly alter how they handle allegations of sexual harassment and assault is reckless and inappropriate,” wrote the Senators.

 

“We urge you not to release the final Title IX rule at this time and instead to focus on helping schools navigate the urgent issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic that is top of the mind for all students and families,” continued the Senators.

 

Throughout this crisis, Senator Murray has pushed Secretary DeVos to help schools and families affected by the coronavirus. On March 2 and 11, Senator Murray wrote the Secretary DeVos urging her to outline the Department of Education’s response efforts and issue clear guidance for schools districts and institutions of higher education. On March 20, Senator Murray wrote Secretary DeVos again, pushing her to use her existing authority to help struggling student loan borrowers.

 

The full text of the letter is below and HERE.

 

March 31, 2020

 

The Honorable Betsy DeVos Secretary of Education

U.S. Department of Education 400 Maryland Avenue SW

Washington, DC 20202

 

Dear Secretary DeVos,

 

We write to express our strong opposition to plans by the Department of Education (ED or Department) to release the final rule on Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 (Title IX) that was proposed originally on November 16, 2018. In the midst of the growing outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), while schools are grappling with how to maintain basic services for and supports to their students, it is wholly unacceptable for the Department to finalize a rule that fundamentally will change the landscape of how schools are required to respond to incidents of sexual harassment and assault, and we urge you to reconsider this misguided plan.

 

K-12 schools and institutions of higher education face unprecedented uncertainty about the end of this school year and the start of the next school year. The federal government should be doing everything possible to help them navigate these uncertain times. To ask K-12 schools and institutions of higher education to implement in this moment of crisis and extreme uncertainty a rule that, as proposed, would force them to significantly alter how they handle allegations of sexual harassment and assault is reckless and inappropriate.

 

We urge you not to release the final Title IX rule at this time and instead to focus on helping schools navigate the urgent issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic that is top of the mind for all students and families.

 

Sincerely,

 

Patty Murray

United States Senator

 

Elizabeth Warren

United States Senator

 

Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator

 

###