Reps Kuster, Speier, Pressley and Slotkin Lead 46 Members in Letter Demanding Sec DeVos Halt Plans to Gut Title IX Protections Amid Coronavirus Crisis
Concord, NH – Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) were joined by 46 Members of Congress in sending a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Assistant Secretary Kenneth Marcus, urging them to abandon the Administration’s reckless plans – amid the novel coronavirus pandemic – to finalize regulations that would gut civil rights protections for survivors under Title IX. The Office of Management and Budget completed its review of the Title IX overhaul on Friday, March 27, clearing the path for Secretary DeVos to release the final rule. The move is particularly baffling in light of school closures, numerous stakeholders urging the Administration not to take this action, and the White House’s instructions to all federal agencies to “prioritize all resources to slow the transmission of COVID-19.”
The Members’ letter states, “It is critical that our nation work diligently to contain the public health and economic fallout of this global crisis, and is therefore inappropriate for the Administration to choose this moment to enact new rules that jeopardize the civil rights of survivors…School closures have impacted more than 90 percent of the country’s public and private K-12 schools and more than 1,200 colleges and universities, affecting more than 70 million students nationwide. Students and families are already struggling to meet basic needs, including food, housing, and health care, and both PK-12 and higher education institutions are already scrambling to create distance learning systems and to channel their limited resources to help meet urgent student needs.”
The letter goes on to state, “The Department’s plan to issue a final Title IX rule in the middle of this crisis would only exacerbate the tremendous challenges that students and school staff are already combating. Schools would be forced to divert their already limited resources to create complex new policies and train staff on implementation—all while operating remotely. In the waiting period before the final regulations become effective, students with pending Title IX proceedings would be needlessly subjected to additional confusion, uncertainty, and delay… [W]e implore you to prioritize safeguarding students’ civil rights instead of undermining them.”
Among the stakeholders asking DeVos to cease with her plans are approximately 200 survivor advocate and civil rights organizations, 33 higher education associations representing thousands of two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities, and 18 state attorneys general.
The full text of the letter can be read here.