K-12 schools in need of Title IX compliance assistance have a new ally, as the nonprofit Association of Title IX Administrators, or ATIXA, launched on Monday, partially in response to a Dear Colleague letter
issued in April by the Department of Education’s office for civil rights.
The OCR reminded schools earlier this year that Title IX prohibits schools that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of sex in education programs or activities. But, included in that letter, the OCR also said, “Sexual harassment of students, which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.”
Considering how many schools are currently being accused of struggling with just the athletic components of Title IX (see: 100 schools in Idaho and nearly 100 more in Oregon), that statement likely caused some sleepless nights for school administrators.
Enter ATIXA. As part of its launch on Monday, the group placed its Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Model Policy
online, free of charge, to help schools comply with the sexual-harassment components of Title IX.
ATIXA won’t just be focusing on the sexual-harassment/sexual-abuse aspects of Title IX, however. From the sounds of its introductory press release, the organization aims to become a main professional-development source for Title IX administrators.
As the OCR reminded schools back in 2004, all public school districts must designate a specified Title IX coordinator to handle all Title IX complaints. The coordinator’s name must be made publicly available to all students and staff, and this person must go through adequate training to be equipped to handle complaints.
ATIXA’s job in all of this, then, is to help bring Title IX coordinators together to “explore best practices, share resources, and advance the worthy goal of gender equity in education,” as its website says. The group says that despite ED requiring districts to designate Title IX coordinators, “we’re still not entirely sure what the appropriate role, functions, and expectations” are—and they say the ED’s Dear Colleague letter from April only added to the confusion.
While specific membership numbers aren’t yet available from the organization, the members will largely be district-level (and college) Title IX coordinators, other district leaders with Title IX responsibilities, and academic and athletic administrators.
Now, for a nominal fee, district administrators with Title IX responsibilities can have a professional learning network to help their own district’s Title IX compliance.
Considering how widespread some of the OCR’s recent Title IX investigations have become, ATIXA likely doesn’t come a moment too soon.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.