University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Department of Education OCR Title IX Investigation of Wittenberg University ED-OH-0004
Docket / Court 15-13-2141 ( No Court )
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Education
Case Summary
On April 10, 2013, the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) received a complaint filed by a university student, which alleged that the university discriminated against her on the basis of sex. Specifically, the complaint alleged that the university failed to respond ... read more >
On April 10, 2013, the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) received a complaint filed by a university student, which alleged that the university discriminated against her on the basis of sex. Specifically, the complaint alleged that the university failed to respond appropriately, including by conducting a timely investigation, when the student was sexually assaulted by a male student athlete, in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

OCR determined that it had jurisdiction and that the complaint was filed timely, and opened an investigation. They investigated two issues: (1) whether the university interfered with or limited the ability of a student to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by the university by effectively causing, encouraging, accepting, tolerating, or failing to correct a sexually hostile environment of which it had actual or constructive notice; and (2) whether the university failed to adopt grievance procedures that incorporate appropriate due process standards and that provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of student complaints under Title IX. OCR combined this complaint (15-31-2141) with a complaint from 2011 (15-11-2015) for the investigation, since the allegations in both complaints were substantially similar.

OCR concluded its investigation, summarized in a Letter of Findings dated March 24, 2017. The investigation found that the university violated Title IX. The university failed to indicate that inquiries could be referred to the university's Title IX coordinator or OCR in the university's notification of nondiscrimination. The university also failed to provide a Title IX coordinator during the 2010-2011 school year, and failed to provide notice of its Title IX coordinator from 2010 to March 2017. Additionally, the university failed to comply with Title IX because its grievance procedures only applied to sexual harassment and sexual assault, and not all forms of sex discrimination. The grievance policies also contained conflicting information as to whether they applied to third parties, and expressly allowed for termination of a Title IX proceeding if a party initiated a civil, criminal, or agency proceeding. The university also permitted mediation in matters regarding sexual assault, in violation of Title IX, and failed to provide equitable responses to complaints of sexual assault filed by the two students.

The university entered into a voluntary Resolution Agreement on March 7, 2017. The university was required to adopt and publish an updated Notice of Nondiscrimination, revise its Title IX policies and grievance procedures and submit them for OCR review, and to publish a policy addressing communication between the university's Title IX coordinator and the university's police department. The university also agreed to provide Title IX training to relevant personnel. The Resolution Agreement required the university to issue letters to both student complainants, explaining the steps the university had taken over the past several years to improve its response to sexual assault allegations. The university was also required to reimburse both students or their families for the cost of counseling up to $2000 each that took place after the date of the incident mentioned in the complaints and up to a year following the Resolution Agreement.

The university agreed that OCR monitoring would continue until OCR determined that the university had fulfilled the terms of the agreement and was in compliance with Title IX and its implementing regulation.

Elizabeth Heise - 11/25/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Reporting
Defendant-type
College/University
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Out-of-court
Causes of Action Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. ยงยง 1681 et seq.
Defendant(s) Wittenberg University
Plaintiff Description female student at Wittenberg University who alleged that the university did not respond appropriately after she was sexually assaulted by a male student athlete
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2017 - n/a
Filing Year 2013
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing ED-OH-0003 : Department of Education OCR Title IX Investigation of Wittenberg University (No Court)
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
No documents currently in the collection

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