Ed. Dept. Changes Stance in Another Title IX Case
The Education Department has dropped its investigation of alleged sex and race bias at two Illinois colleges following the Justice Department's recent decision to seek a narrow application of the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.
The Justice Department, in a legal brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court last month in the case of Grove City College v. Bell, contended that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 applies only to specific programs or activities within an institution that receive federal funds.
Previous Administrations, and, until recently, the Education Department under the Reagan Administration, have contended that when a school or college receives any amount of federal aid, the institution itself is the "program or activ-ity" receiving aid and must, therefore, comply with the law.
When ed filed sex- and race-bias charges against the two schools--Chicago State University and Governors State University--last year, it sought the right to investigate all areas of their undergraduate programs, according to a lawyer involved in the case.
But last month, the department, citing the Justice Department's new position, sought to postpone the proceedings before an administrative law judge, pending the outcome of the Grove City case before the Supreme Court.
After Judge Richard Murphy rejected that request, ed moved to dismiss all charges against the colleges, except one against a program for disadvantaged students that received federal aid directly.
Though ed also has sought to dis-miss the charges of racial discrimination against the two universities, neither Title IX nor the Justice Department's brief in the Grove City case address race bias.
Margaret A. Kohn, a lawyer for the National Women's Law Center, which opposes the Justice Department's interpretation of Title IX, said ed's adoption of the Justice Department's position would "drastically reduce" its ability to prohibit sex, race, and national origin discrimination in education.
She also said it would be inappropriate to apply the Justice Department's position on sex bias to cases involving racial discrimination, which is prohibited under a different law, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As of last week, Judge Murphy had not ruled on ed's request to dismiss most of the charges against the colleges.--tt