On May 1, 2012, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Educational Opportunities Section ("Division") launched a formal investigation and compliance review of the University's response to sexual assault and harassment over the proceeding three-year period. (The Division also launched a companion investigation of the University's Office of Public Safety and simultaneous investigations of the City of Missoula Police Department and Missoula County Attorney's Office. These are linked as related cases, below.)
On May 4, 2012, the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights ("OCR") opened a Title IX compliance review to assess whether the University's policies and procedures and the University's implementation of such policies and procedures ensured the elimination of sexual harassment and sexual violence, appropriately responded to such harassment and violence, prevented future harassment, and eliminated the hostile environment and its effects that result from such harassment.
The DOJ and OCR conducted the investigation and review under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX"). The DOJ also conducted its investigation under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title IV"). The United States combined the Title IV and Title IX investigations and compliance reviews of the University.
On May 9, 2013, the DOJ and the OCR released a findings letter identifying problems with the University's policies prohibiting sexual harassment and sexual assault, grievance procedures, response to allegations and instances of retaliation, and Title IX coordinator training, and finding that the University had not fully eliminated the hostile educational environment based on sex and that the University's notice of nondiscrimination did not fully meet Title IX regulations' requirements.
Also on May 9, 2013, the University, the DOJ, and the OCR executed an agreement resolving the investigation and compliance reviews. The agreement details specific steps the University will take to revise its policies, procedures and investigative practices to provide a grievance procedure that ensures prompt and equitable resolution of sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations; adequately investigate and respond to allegations of retaliation by students who have alleged sexual assault; take sufficient effective action to fully eliminate a hostile environment based on sex, prevent its recurrence and address its effects; ensure that the individuals designated to coordinate its Title IX efforts receive adequate training and coordinate these efforts effectively; and revise the University's notice of nondiscrimination to adequately inform students that sex discrimination is prohibited.
The Agreement remains in force for at least three academic years; puts in place various reporting duties; and will not terminate until at least 60 days after the United States has received all of the reporting required through the first semester of the 2015-2016 school year.
The University agreed to retain within thirty days and pay all the fees and costs of an equity consultant with expertise in the area of sex-based harassment prevention and training in higher education to evaluate and recommend revisions to the University's policies, procedures, and practices for preventing, investigating, and remediating sex-based harassment, as required by the Agreement; develop and provide the mandatory Title IX training required by the Agreement; and develop one or more annual climate surveys in consultation with the University, as required by the Agreement, and make recommendations to the University regarding its sex-based harassment policies, procedures, and practices based on the surveys.
As of May 3, 2014, the United States continues to monitor the implementation of the Agreement and will do so until it determines that the University has fulfilled the Agreement's requirements and is in compliance with Title IV, Title IX, and the implementing regulations that were at issue in this case. Heather Turner - 05/03/2014