Does Summer Break Apply to Title IX Cases?

By:  Sally Roller

Schools are out and it’s time for summer! Many school administrators put on their out of office messages and disconnect from school-related business for a much-needed break. Students similarly take an academic pause during the summer months to enjoy sunshine.  But wait, what about those Title IX cases? Can schools take a break from Title IX investigations in the summer? The short answer: no, schools cannot take a break from processing Title IX cases during the summer.

The 2020 Title IX regulations do not exempt schools from processing Title IX cases over the summer.  Instead, the rules require that the school set “reasonably prompt time frames” to complete a Title IX grievance process.  With the general goal of completing a case in 60 to 90 days, it seems unlikely that the Office for Civil Rights would find a three-month delay reasonable.  Generally, schools should process cases during the summer unless “good cause” might delay a processing a case.  Good cause may include considerations such as the absence of a party, a party’s advisor, or a witness, concurrent law enforcement activity, or the need to accommodate a disability.[1]  Thus, a school with this language in its policy might be able to obtain a good cause delay for the absence of party, advisor, or witness, but not for a Title IX Coordinator, investigator, or other member of your Title IX team. The school, therefore, should make coverage plans if a member of the Title IX team goes on an extended vacation.

As always, a school should consult with their lawyer to ensure any delay would still be within the required “reasonably prompt” directive.

[1] 34 CFR § 106.45(a)(1)(v).