More than two months after receiving initial feedback on its Title IX procedures from the federal Office for Civil Rights, Harvard Law School has still not received final sign-off from OCR on its updated draft of those procedures, according to Law School spokesperson Robb London.
Even though it has not received final feedback, the Law School has begun implementing the new procedures.
As part of a resolution agreement signed by the Law School when it was found in violation of Title IX last year, the Law School submitted its new Title IX procedures—which break from Harvard’s central framework for responding to cases of alleged sexual harassment and were adopted in December—to OCR for feedback.
In February, the Law School received preliminary feedback from the federal office. At the time, London said the feedback called for minor changes that the Law School addressed in a new draft. The Law School then resubmitted their procedures for final review. Since then, without further OCR review, the Law School has started implementing the new procedures, and Dean of the Law School Martha L. Minow appointed a Title IX committee, a body overseeing the Law School’s procedures.
The Law School adopted this set of Title IX procedures in December following pushback from Law School faculty members to Harvard’s central Title IX framework. Unveiled last summer, the then University-wide system for responding to cases of alleged sexual harassment created the Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Dispute Resolution, which conducts investigations into sexual misconduct.
Law School professors soon began to publicly criticize the centralized system, and Minow appointed a committee to create a set of school-specific procedures at the Law School. A group of 20 professors, all of whom signed an October open letter in the Boston Globe that railed against Harvard’s centralized system, also circulated a memo that called for the Law School to completely circumvent Harvard’s new ODR.
The Law School’s procedures differ significantly from Harvard’s centralized set; the Law School’s set hosts investigations through the school’s Title IX office, not ODR, and calls for attorneys to be provided to both parties in investigations.
The Law School’s break from the University Title IX system has sparked a broader debate over University governance, and two Law School professors published an op-ed in March that called for a University-wide faculty senate.
Law School students will be notified when the new procedures are implemented, according to a notice on the Law School website.
—Staff writer Andrew M. Duehren can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @aduehren
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