School’s out for summer, giving many 2017 high school graduates two and a half months of eager anticipation of their first year of higher education. But many foster youth lacking the financial support or resources to make a college degree obtainable won’t get that opportunity. A majority of states are calling on their—public and, sometimes, private—institutions of higher education to help change that. Continue Reading States tag colleges and universities to support foster youth
In Salazar v. South Antonio Independent School District, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that an educational institution can be liable under Title IX for sexual misconduct committed by its employees, but only when an employee with power to correct the misconduct—other than the wrongdoer himself—is aware of the misconduct and is deliberately indifferent to it. Although the student plaintiff in the case argued an institution could be liable based on a principal’s deliberate indifference to his own misconduct, the court rejected this result as inconsistent with Title IX. The court held: “We discern no congressional intent in Title IX to provide a private cause of action for damages when the only employee or representative of [an institution] who had knowledge of the [misconduct] was the offender.” The court’s ruling ensures that an educational institution—including a college or university—will not be liable under Title IX someone other than the wrongdoer at the institution is aware of misconduct and the institution has a fair opportunity to respond to it, but nonetheless remains deliberately indifferent.
The facts of Salazar are tragic. Continue Reading Title IX Liability Where Only the Wrongdoer Knows of Misconduct?
The U.S. Department of Education has signaled a new route for its civil rights investigations of educational institutions. Candice Jackson, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights’ Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, reportedly provided new internal complaint investigation guidelines to Regional Offices. These new guidelines change course from prior policies mandating that, for certain types of complaints, OCR must conduct broader investigations, request particular types or greater amounts of data from schools, and be subject to additional oversight by the Department’s Headquarters.
Under the previous administration, complaints alleging Continue Reading Former OCR investigator breaks down new Department marching orders
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has now more than doubled the original fine amount for violations of the Clery Act. For several years now, institutions have been operating with the understanding that ED could issue civil fines of up to $35,000 per violation for Clery Act compliance deficiencies, as recited on page 1-11 of the 2016 Edition of The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting (i.e., “Clery Handbook”). But this amount was just raised to $54,789. Continue Reading Yes, Clery Fines Increase Again (Clery Blog Series #1*)
Do pregnant women qualify for disability accommodations? Until now, court decisions taken as a whole have responded to this question with a resounding, “Maybe.” Two recent decisions in Khan v. Midwestern University out of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois examine the issues here and here.
Interested in learning more about what you need to do to accommodate pregnant and parenting students? Join us tomorrow, June 14, at noon for a complimentary continuing legal education webinar. Click here to register! Continue Reading Pregnancy as a Disability? Khan v. Midwestern University
Recently on American higher education campuses, the U.S. Secretary of Education was shouted down during a commencement speech; a Nobel Prize winning biologist was disinvited to speak following student outrage related to his past comments linking intelligence to race; and a faculty member held his ground when his colleagues at a large religious institution purportedly questioned whether he should host a speaker whose presence would “make students feel uncomfortable.” These largely publicized incidents are just a fraction of the speaker controversies sweeping across America’s campuses. While this issue is not an entirely new one and examples can be gleaned throughout U.S. higher education’s history, they are occurring at a much more frantic and seemingly urgent rate due in part to social media campaigns and the increasing speed and breadth of online communication. Continue Reading Disinviting Controversial Speakers — the Temptation of No Platforming: Key issues for administrators to consider
In a unanimous decision, a state appellate court in Illinois recently ordered a public college’s fundraising organization to release records in its possession pursuant to a state Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA,” a.k.a. “sunshine law”) request. In Chicago Tribune v. The College of DuPage and The College of DuPage Foundation, the court held that the College’s separately incorporated foundation conducts government business on its behalf and therefore is subject to the state’s FOIA laws. While the decision will have wide-ranging effects for public bodies in Illinois, the decision brings Illinois into alignment with many other states in how they apply their state FOIA laws to non-governmental entities performing work on behalf of the public body. In light of this decision, public colleges and universities across all states should reexamine the reach of their state’s FOIA laws to entities that perform government functions on their behalf, such as foundations. Continue Reading Illinois college foundation not exempt from state FOIA law
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has released a public service announcement warning of fraud schemes aimed at colleges, universities, and their constituents. The May 5 announcement outlines several – unfortunately effective – schemes that have taken off since July 2016, including:
- Vendor Bank Account Scam
- Fake “Education Tax” Scam
- Phishing Scheme Involving Requests for W-2 Tax Information and
- Phishing Scheme Involving Payroll Fraud
The announcement explains in plain language how each scam works and how schools, employees, and students can guard against falling victim to them. Consider sharing this information with your institutional community and remain vigilant in protecting your systems and data.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996—commonly referred to as “HIPAA”—is a federal law imposing certain data privacy and data security requirements with respect to medical information, including the personal health information of individual persons. Colleges and universities maintain medical information related to employees and students in a host of locations, including human resources files, student records, and in the records of on-campus health and counseling centers, among others. Higher education administrators unfamiliar with the intricacies of HIPAA often believe the law imposes more obligations on colleges and universities than it actually does. This post dispels some of the most common myths relating to HIPAA and higher education.
Myth #1: HIPAA applies to all medical information we maintain as a college or university.
While HIPAA’s privacy rule does govern the privacy of protected health information (PHI), HIPAA’s privacy rule only applies to HIPAA “covered entit[ies].” As a general rule, covered entities include: (1) health plans; (2) health care clearinghouses; and (3) healthcare providers who electronically transmit health information in connection with certain electronic transactions relating to billing, payment, and/or insurance coverage. Continue Reading Top 5 Common HIPAA “Myths” That Arise In Higher Education
This morning, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer. The Court is considering whether excluding churches from an otherwise neutral and secular aid program administered by a state agency violates the Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution.