Case: Education Department OCR Investigation of Tufts

10-02089 | No Court

Filed Date: 2010

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) initiated this investigation against Tufts University under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The investigation pertained to a complaint alleging that the University had not responded promptly or equitably to a sexual assault complaint made by a female student.In September 2010, an original complaint was made by the student reporting that she was sexually assaulted and that the University had retaliated against…

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) initiated this investigation against Tufts University under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The investigation pertained to a complaint alleging that the University had not responded promptly or equitably to a sexual assault complaint made by a female student.

In September 2010, an original complaint was made by the student reporting that she was sexually assaulted and that the University had retaliated against her by threatening to remove her from a student leadership program should she not attend the program's weekly meeting with the accused student. In February 2011, the student amended the original complaint to further allege that the University failed to respond appropriately to her original complaint and that the internal investigation had not progressed in a prompt or equitable manner.

OCR's investigation found that the University had not retaliated against the student, but had failed to provide a prompt and equitable response to complaints of sexual harassment as required by Title IX.

In 2013, members of the Tufts student body wrote an open letter to the University president and articulated their concerns about sexual misconduct on the University campus. As a result, the president created a task force comprised of University students, faculty, and staff. The task force worked to address students' concerns by overhauling University procedures, develop new programs to educate University community members about sexual misconduct, and increase the transparency surrounding sexual misconduct on campus.

On April 17, 2014, the University entered into an agreement with OCR to take certain steps to resolve the compliance concerns that arose from OCR's investigation. These steps included retaining a Title IX Coordinator, revising the University's policies and procedures to provide a grievance procedure that ensured prompt and equitable resolution of sexual assault and harassment allegations, providing timely and effective interim relief for complainants, and reviewing all sexual assault and harassment complaints filed since the 2011-2012 school year to assess whether these complaints were handled appropriately.

On April 26, 2014, the University informed OCR it was "revoking" the agreement. On April 28, 2014, under federal civil rights regulations, OCR issued a press release explaining that it was therefore initiating proceedings to terminate federal financial support of the University (which includes eligibility for federal financial aid) or to enforce the agreement.

Under that "death penalty" threat, in May 2014, the University agreed to reenter its agreement with OCR. The University reaffirmed its commitment to working with OCR and ensuring compliance with Title IX through improved policies and procedures.

The University's sexual misconduct task force issued its final report in May 2016. The report outlined the steps the University had taken to prevent sexual misconduct on campus and how it was working with OCR to improve its policies and procedures relating to sexual misconduct.

This settlement agreement has no specified end date, and the decision to terminate the ongoing supervision is at the sole discretion of OCR. We could not find any evidence of continued enforcement efforts or breach of the agreement by Tufts.

Since then, the Department of Education has actually rescinded the guidance it issued in 2011 and 2014, and has issued a proposed rule that would, among other things, limit the definition of what is considered sexual harassment and assault. The rule would also allow universities to switch from a preponderance of the evidence standard to requiring clear and convincing evidence. The Department issued the proposed rule on November 16, 2018, and announced a 60-day public comment period. Tufts University President Anthony Monaco submitted a letter during the comment period criticizing the proposed changes, and Tufts has since announced that it intends to continue using a preponderance of the evidence standard when evaluating claims.

Summary Authors

Maria Ricaurte (11/1/2015)

Amelia Huckins (2/9/2017)

Chris Pollack (3/20/2019)

People


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Hibino, Thomas J. (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Jeka, Mary R. (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Hibino, Thomas J. (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Jeka, Mary R. (Massachusetts)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

01-10-2089

[Notification letter for Tufts University]

Education Department OCR investigation of Tufts

Sept. 23, 2010

Sept. 23, 2010

Notice Letter

10-02089

[Notification letter for Tufts University]

Sept. 23, 2010

Sept. 23, 2010

Notice Letter

01-09-2070

[Notification letter for Tufts University]

Oct. 26, 2010

Oct. 26, 2010

Notice Letter

01-09-2070

[Notification letter for Tufts University]

Oct. 26, 2010

Oct. 26, 2010

Notice Letter

01-09-2070

[Tufts University Letter of Findings]

April 30, 2013

April 30, 2013

Findings Letter/Report

10-02089

[Resolution Agreement]

Education Department OCR investigation of Tufts

April 17, 2014

April 17, 2014

Settlement Agreement

10-02089

Press Release

April 28, 2014

April 28, 2014

Press Release

10-02089

[Tufts University Letter of Findings]

Education Department OCR investigation of Tufts

April 28, 2014

April 28, 2014

Findings Letter/Report

Tufts Sexual Misconduct Prevention Task Force Final Report

OCR Investigation of Tufts University

May 5, 2016

May 5, 2016

Findings Letter/Report

Resources

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Massachusetts

Case Type(s):

Education

Key Dates

Filing Date: 2010

Case Ongoing: Perhaps, but long-dormant

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights in response to a complaint by a female student who claimed Tufts had failed to take prompt and equitable steps to investigate and respond sexual assault.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Non-DOJ federal government plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Tufts University (Medford), Private Entity/Person

Defendant Type(s):

College/University

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.

Special Case Type(s):

Out-of-court

Availably Documents:

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Order Duration: 2014 - None

Content of Injunction:

Hire

Monitor/Master

Monitoring

Reporting

Training

Issues

Affected Gender:

Female

Type of Facility:

Non-government non-profit