Education Dept. rescinds Obama-era guidelines on school sexual misconduct

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In their place, she imposed interim guidelines that allowed more protections for the people they accused.

Ms DeVos, however, said the interim rules signalled a move toward a more "fair and impartial" process.

"Schools must continue to confront these horrific crimes and behaviors head-on", DeVos said in a statement accompanying the interim guidance.

The Department of Education released a Q and A to help schools understand their responsibility when addressing sexual misconduct.

The guidance being rescinded refers to the "Dear Colleague" Letter (DCL), a product of the DOE under former President Barack Obama, which outlined the procedures for university handling and politics of campus sexual assault and harassment cases.

Earlier in September, DeVos said she believed accused students needed more protections.

"The Secretary's actions are particularly alarming for LGBTQ students: bisexual women are nearly twice as likely to experience intimate partner violence than heterosexual women, and are more than twice as likely to experience intimate partner sexual assault", the National LGBTQ Task Force's director of advocacy and action, Stacey Long Simmons, said in a statement.

The Department will hold a background press call at 10:45 a.m. open to credentialed members of the media.

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Thursday's announcement comes just months after DeVos sparked a controversy by meeting with so-called "men's rights" groups like the National Coalition for Men and groups that speak out on behalf of the accused, like Families Advocating for Campus Equality.

Title IX investigations must be led by a person free of actual or reasonably perceived conflicts of interest and biases.

Under the interim guidance, US schools now have the discretion to apply either the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard or the clear-and-convincing-evidence standard, meaning is it "more likely than not" that sexual harassment or violence occurred, or the convincing evidence standard, meaning "is it highly probable or reasonably certain", which is the higher standard of proof.

Schools are not required to allow appeals; however, a school may choose to allow appeals exclusively by the responding party or by both parties. Schools will be allowed to have informal resolution to cases, through mediation, if appropriate and if all parties agree. The Obama Dear Colleague Letter also told schools they should handle cases themselves in a timely manner.

Of particular focus has been what standard of evidence schools should use to determine if an assault has occurred and if it should respond by taking actions like disciplining students and making reasonable steps to separate the victim from the offender.

Following DeVos's announcement that she would rescind guidelines in order to further protect the accused, GLAAD tweeted, "LGBTQ students experience harassment at disproportionately high rates".

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"The campus justice system was and is broken", Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) Executive Director Robert Shibley said in a statement.

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