Obama-era school sexual assault policies rescinded

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-23 03:50:32|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday released interim guidance on how colleges should handle sexual assaults on campuses, replacing relevant policies introduced by the Barack Obama administration.

Under the Obama era, the U.S. Education Department issued a "Dear Colleague" letter in 2011 that required schools to adopt the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard, a minimal standard of proof when disciplining students, and a question-and-answer document in 2014 on how schools should investigate and adjudicate cases of sexual misconduct.

Both the letter and the document were rescinded on Friday, seen as the latest step in the Trump administration's rollback of Obama-era guidelines.

"As I said earlier this month, the era of rule by letter is over," DeVos said in a statement. "The Department of Education will follow the proper legal procedures to craft a new Title IX regulation that better serves students and schools."

It was inappropriate for the Obama administration to mandate schools which use the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard without public input, said some Education officials.

Previous policies were "deeply flawed substantively and procedurally," the reports quoted a senior department official as saying.

"This decision shows the Trump Administration's utter disregard for survivors of sexual assault," Democratic lawmaker Nita Lowey said in a statement.

Under the interim guidance, U.S. schools now have the discretion to apply either the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard or the clear-and-convincing-evidence standard, meaning is it "more likely than not" that sexual harassment or violence occurred, or the convincing evidence standard, meaning "is it highly probable or reasonably certain," which is the higher standard of proof.

The U.S. Education Department expects to release a notice of proposed rulemaking in the next few months.