Virginia Student Challenges Education Dept Title IX Guidance

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A University of Virginia law-school graduate sued the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday over the department’s guidance on the gender-equity law known as Title IX.

The student, whom the lawsuit identified only as John Doe, was accused of and found responsible for sexual misconduct. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is backing his lawsuit, which is the latest to take aim at federal Title IX guidance.

Among other things, the new complaint raises objections to the department’s pivotal 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter, which marked the beginning of a new era of Title IX enforcement. That letter stated that colleges must use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard when investigating sexual-violence complaints, a standard of proof that is lower than the one used in criminal cases. The lawsuit said the department made that change without giving the public the proper notice.

The department has previously responded to similar criticism by asserting that it did not exceed its legal authority in issuing the guidance, and by saying that it had not actually imposed new requirements on colleges. The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new lawsuit.

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