Feds reach agreement with Wesley College in Title IX investigation

DOVER — The U.S. Department of Education said Wednesday that its Office for Civil Rights has reached an agreement with Wesley College after finding the college in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 as it applies to sexual violence and sexual harassment.

The office determined that students accused of sexual misconduct had their Title IX rights violated by Wesley in the course of its investigation of the case.

Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in education programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

The civil rights investigation was based on a complaint filed on behalf of an accused student asserting that Wesley failed to fully investigate a report of sexual misconduct against the accused student. The complaint also alleged that the student was wrongly charged and expelled within seven days in April 2015, just prior to his anticipated graduation. Three other students were also accused of the same conduct and received the same punishment.

The office said Wesley failed to provide accused students with essential procedural protections and also did not adhere to safeguards provided for in its own disciplinary policies and procedures. The office also found that the accused student about whom the complaint was filed was not provided a full opportunity to respond to the charges, rebut the allegations, or defend himself at his hearing.

Among the violations:

• An interim suspension was imposed the same day as the college received the report against the student even though the college had not interviewed the student.

• The student was not interviewed during the investigation of the complaint.

• The student was provided the wrong policies and procedures by the college and reported that he went to the hearing expecting to participate in an initial conference.

• The student did not receive a copy of, or information contained in, the incident report prior to the hearing.

•Accused students were not provided a full opportunity to provide witnesses and other evidence at the hearing.

Under the resolution agreement, Wesley College agreed to:

• Determine whether it engaged in a sufficient level of inquiry prior to imposing interim suspensions and provide specific remedial actions as warranted.

• Complete its investigation of the incident.

• Re-investigate or address the investigative deficiencies the Office of Civil Rights identified for specific case files from 2013 to 2015.

• Provide the office with copies of incident files for the 2017-2018 and 2018-19 academic years.

• Publish an anti-harassment statement and revise its Title IX grievance procedures.

• Provide regular training on issues related to the sexual harassment and violence requirements of Title IX.

• Enhance outreach to and feedback from students.

• Convene a Title IX committee, composed of staff and students, to develop a plan for educating students and employees about sexual harassment and assault.

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