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Case Name Department of Education OCR Title IX Investigation of Wesley College ED-DE-0001
Docket / Court 03-15-2329 ( No Court )
State/Territory Delaware
Case Type(s) Education
Case Summary
On May 14, 2015, a complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) alleging that Wesley College discriminated against a male student in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by failing to provide him with an equitable grievance and appeal ... read more >
On May 14, 2015, a complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) alleging that Wesley College discriminated against a male student in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by failing to provide him with an equitable grievance and appeal process. The complaint alleged that the student, a senior at the college, had no involvement in the incident for which he was expelled, which involved students filming a sex act between a male student and a female student without the consent of the female student. The complaint further alleged that the school did not thoroughly investigate the incident, and that the student was not given adequate preparation for his judicial hearing.

OCR opened an investigation to determine whether the college provided prompt and equitable responses to sexual harassment and sexual assault complaints, reports, and other incidents of which it had notice, including the incident involving the accused student and three other accused male students. In a Letter of Findings dated October 12, 2016, OCR determined that the college had failed to adopt and implement Title IX grievance policies that fully complied with the requirements of Title IX. The college also failed to follow its own written procedures. The college's violations of Title IX and its own procedures resulted in the accused student being denied important procedural protections throughout the college's investigation and his subsequent expulsion.

The investigation also found significant compliance issues unrelated to the incident mentioned in the complaint. The college's Notice of Non-Discrimination contained a number of errors, including a failure to identify the appropriate Title IX coordinator or any of the individuals responsible for investigating and resolving Title IX complaints. The Notice of Non-Discrimination was not included in the Student Handbook in the 2014-15 or 2015-16 school years.

OCR determined that the college's Title IX Policies and Procedures, as written, provided for an adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation, including an opportunity to present witnesses an evidence. The investigation then determined that the Policies and Procedures were not fully compliant with Title IX. Specifically, the college's policy of allowing discontinuation of an investigation when a student waived the right to a formal Judicial Board hearing violated Title IX, as did their failure to give adequate notice to students, employees, and third parties of the procedures. OCR also determined that the time period utilized to investigate and resolve complaints was too short to allow for equitable investigations and resolutions.

With regard to the incident in question, OCR found that the accused student was entitled to procedural protections that the college did not afford him. The college's failure to interview the accused student impacted the investigation and resolution of the accused student's case. The college also provided the incorrect policy to the accused student and failed to share information with him, which limited his ability to fully participate in the process. The resolution was not equitable in several ways. First, the accused student was not given an opportunity to share his version of the events and benefit from an investigation of his version of the events. Second, the student was not given the opportunity to challenge the evidence that the college relied upon in imposing his interim suspension. The accused student was also not given all of his resolution options, and was not given an adequate opportunity to defend himself at the hearing. He also may not have been provided sufficient time to participate in the process, given that he was notified of the charges on April 1, 2015, and expelled on April 8, 2015. The three other accused students had similar procedural problems.

The college entered into a voluntary Resolution Agreement on September 30, 2016. The college agreed to revise its policies and procedures that addressed complaints of sex discrimination, including but not limited to its Title IX policy. The college was required to address 34 specific issues to bring its policy into compliance with Title IX, including providing notice that its procedures apply to complaints alleging all forms of sexual misconduct filed against students, employees, or third parties and providing an explanation of how to file a complaint of sexual misconduct. The college was also required to update its notice of non-discrimination and review and revise its Student Code of Conduct. The college agreed to review and revise the current responsibilities of its Title IX coordinator and provide sexual misconduct and Title IX training to relevant personnel. The college was required to provide OCR with assessments in accordance with each requirement, and agreed to ongoing monitoring by OCR until it has fulfilled the terms of the Resolution Agreement and fully complied with the regulations implementing Title IX.

Elizabeth Heise - 11/25/2018

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Required disclosure
Sex discrimination
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Causes of Action Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. ยงยง 1681 et seq.
Defendant(s) Wesley College
Plaintiff Description Parent on behalf of a student who was expelled from Wesley College for sexual misconduct.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2016 - n/a
Filed 05/14/2015
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Chronicle of Higher Education, Title IX Tracker: Wesley College (Del.)
Chronicle of Higher Education
Date: Jan. 26, 2019
By: Chronicle of Higher Education
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

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