Approximately 70 million Americans have been involved with the criminal justice system. Education and employment are seen as necessary for transitioning those Americans back into their communities. At the same time, pressures on colleges and universities to demonstrate safety measures are leading more of them to ask about the criminal history of student and employee applicants. These realities generate tension between institutional strategies for best serving their communities. Continue Reading To Infinity and Beyond the Box: Requesting Criminal Histories on Campus

Colleges and universities purchase an impressive array of services and products.  The underlying deals are commonly negotiated by employees across campus, and the agreements are not always reviewed by a lawyer.  Although most of these agreements never create a problem, the ones that do cause major headaches.  As explained in more detail below, many of the headaches could be avoided, or at least minimized, if the contractual relationship was limited to a year or less.

Continue Reading A simple way for colleges and universities to help avoid buyer’s remorse with vendor contracts—block employees from locking your institution into long-term agreements

Today, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson, issued a letter formally “withdrawing the statements of policy and guidance” reflected in the U.S. Department of Education’s April 2011 Dear Colleague Letter concerning sexual violence and its April 2014 Questions and Answers on Title IX and sexual violence.  Ms. Jackson’s letter indicates that the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will “not rely on the withdrawn documents in its enforcement of Title IX” and will instead rely on its 2001 Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance and January 2006 Dear Colleague Letter on sexual harassment.  Ms. Jackson’s letter also indicates the Department’s intent to undergo a new public rulemaking process will result in an “approach to student sexual misconduct that responds to the concerns of stakeholders and that aligns with the purpose of Title IX to achieve access to educational benefits.”  The letter is accompanied by a document titled “Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct,” intended to provide interim guidance related to the Department’s enforcement positions.  Notably, this guidance emphasizes that schools must continue to meet their legal obligations under the Clery Act, which includes amendments to the Act by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, and accompanying regulations. Continue Reading U.S. Department of Education Withdraws Title IX Guidance

Is it OK to share a student’s financial aid information within your institution, with government agencies, or with scholarship providers? In January 2017, the Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, issued guidance addressing the use student financial aid information. This guidance focuses on the limited ways educational institutions can permissibly use student financial aid information and includes more than two pages of “frequently asked questions” for colleges and universities. Continue Reading Financial Aid Data and Student Privacy: Beyond FERPA

In a speech yesterday afternoon at George Mason University, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos outlined the Department of Education’s intention to launch “a full, transparent notice-and-comment process to incorporate the insights of all parties in developing a better way” to handle the investigation of sexual assaults under Title IX. Continue Reading DeVos on Title IX: “The era of ‘rule by letter’ is over”

On September 5, 2017, President Trump announced that the administration is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.   The DACA program provides protection from deportation for certain qualifying undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.  If approved, DACA grantees are eligible for work authorization and a social security number.  Since the program’s inception, many DACA grantees have enrolled in colleges and universities and/or are working on campus.

Future of DACA

With the rescission of the Executive Order establishing the DACA program, it is up to Congress to pass legislation to continue the program or provide protection to these individuals.  Absent legislation, all DACA grantees may be deported once their DACA authorization expires.  A bipartisan group of senators has introduced the DREAM Act to provide a path to citizenship for those currently eligible for DACA.  This bill is not new to Congress—iterations of this bill have been introduced in Congress over the past 15 years without any success. Continue Reading The End of DACA: What Colleges and Universities Should Know

Last week, the NCAA Board of Governors adopted a policy regarding yearly sexual violence prevention education, and all institutions participating in the NCAA (at any level) must comply with the policy. The policy was recommended by the NCAA’s Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence, which is composed of college and university presidents, athletics administrators, NCAA coaches, sexual violence experts, and NCAA student-athletes.

Continue Reading The Time is Now: NCAA Adopts Sexual Violence Policy

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced its plan to review a University’s alcohol and other drug (AOD) policies and procedures as part of an ongoing investigation related to Title IX. With students and employees the subject of Title IX investigations and subject to AOD policies, as well as emerging trends related to medical and recreational marijuana, now is the time to reevaluate your school’s AOD policies, procedures, and practices as it relates to students and employees. Continue Reading Students and Employees at the Intersection of Alcohol and Other Drug Policies and Title IX

In the wake of headlines chronicling sexual assault scandals at universities and colleges around the country, states responded by introducing legislation aimed at curbing these assaults. Texas State Senator and Husch Blackwell Partner, Kirk Watson, authored two pieces of legislation that will begin to address the issue at Texas universities and colleges—both public and private. Continue Reading New Texas Laws Require Public and Private Universities to Remove Barriers to Reporting Sexual Assault

As colleges and universities collect more and more sensitive, personal electronic information, they become more and more likely to experience a “data breach.”  Although institutions spend considerable time focusing on high-tech solutions to help guard their data against criminal activity, low-tech strategies can prove equally effective.  One low-tech strategy is to simply stop putting a student’s personal information (“PI”) on university forms and documents when it is not necessary—like including a student’s social security number on a transcript. Continue Reading Cut the Cord—Colleges and Universities Should Stop Including Social Security Numbers on Transcripts