The U.S. Department of Education announced on Thursday that the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) holds Penn State responsible for failing to protect students from sexual abuse, as was discovered during the scandal. involved football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
“As I said before, ‘delayed justice is denied justice’ and Penn State students have been denied justice for too long,” said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in a statement.
The secretary added:
I promise to erase the subsequent results of the cases we inherited from the previous administration, and we are doing so. I hope that resolving this Title IX investigation and the changes we need to make will help the healing continue in the Penn State community.
In a cover letter to Eric J. Barron, PhD, President of Penn State, OCR wrote:
This compliance review was cast in the light of revelations of child sexual abuse on the outside by University football coach Jerry Sandusky, and a totally inappropriate response to it by former college officials. the University. As a result, it is critical that the University have policies and practices in place to prevent such abuse from recurring. Accordingly, the compliance review examined the University’s handling of allegations of sexual behavior, with particular emphasis on complaints of sexual assault, to determine if the University has responded appropriately.
DeVos and the OCR are requiring significant changes to Penn State in the wake of the Obama administration’s failure to resolve the investigation launched in early 2014.
According to a department press release:
With the conclusion of this research, the OCR holds Penn State responsible for its failures in having systems in place to protect students, including when sexual conduct involves athletic staff. The university must now provide for individual remedies for survivors whose OCR complaints determined that Penn State was unable to manage quickly and equitably, review its record-keeping practices to ensure proper documentation of allegations of sexual harassment and inform OCR of the treatment of all Title IX complaints for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years.
After a review that included policies and procedures at eight Penn State campuses, OCR found that the school was still violating Title IX, the federal civil rights law that was passed as part of the Education Amendments. 1972, for several years, including:
During the 2016-2017 school year for student complaints and for the 2015-2016 and 2017-2018 school year for complaints to the Athletic Department, Penn State did not respond properly to allegations of sexual harassment.
During the 2016-17 academic year, the University did not keep the required OCR records to determine if the University met Title IX. During the 2017-2018 academic years 2019-2020, the University continued to fail to implement proper recordkeeping practices.
During the 2019-20 academic year, University Title IX policies and procedures have failed to provide proper notice to students and employees of the procedures; ensuring a fair and proper investigation of complaints; provide reporting procedures for allegations of sex discrimination by employees and third parties; provide designated and reasonable deadlines for the main stages of the grievance process; and to notify the parties of the outcome of the complaint investigations.
In addition to those violations, OCR also found that the school had recently failed to allow due process, imposing “temporary suspension before providing defendant an opportunity to respond to allegations.”
According to the department, OCR and Penn State have signed a “Resolution Agreement” that requires the school to provide individual solutions for its failure to immediately file student complaints and report to OCR about its course procedures. current and upcoming scholars. .
Penn State must also review its current Title IX documentation policies and practices to ensure that they are properly answered and accurately recorded for sexual harassment complaints.
In addition, the school must ensure that all college and athletics staff receive Title IX training.
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth L. Marcus said in a statement:
Given all the attention Penn State has faced in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, it’s disappointing that so many serious problems remain in this college system. As the OCR has shown, schools will be responsible for how they will respond to sexual harassment complaints. We are delighted that Penn State has now, in a spirit of co-operation, agreed to address the issues we have identified. OCR will closely monitor the University to ensure that it meets the requirements of the Resolution Agreement.
In November, Sandusky was effectively sentenced to life in prison when a judge resented him during a court-ordered hearing within the same 30- to 60-year-old term imposed in 2012 for sexual abuse in children.
After Sandusky’s 2011 arrest, Joe Paterno was fired at Penn State Hall’s head coach of fame, and the university paid more than $ 100 million to people who claimed that Sandusky had abused them.
According to the Associated Press, Sandusky, 75, was convicted of 45 men for child sexual abuse in 2012, but he continued to claim his innocence.