New Title IX policy on sexual harassment is taking shape for S.D. public universities

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Pierre map locator South Dakota

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The panel that oversees South Dakota’s public universities will start work next week updating its sexual harassment policy.

New federal Title IX rules take effect August 14. The state Board of Regents considers possible changes during a teleconference June 24.

Final approval would come during the August 4-6 meeting in Pierre.

Schools nationwide will be required to adopt either a ‘preponderance of evidence’ or ‘clear and convincing evidence’ as the standard. The South Dakota board currently uses a ‘preponderance’ standard.

One of the federal changes calls for a live hearing when evidence may be challenged and witnesses cross-examined. The regents’ central office staff recommends the use of a hearing officer and a contested-case format under state legal chapter 1-26 at the institutional level, rather than the current practice of later if a decision is appealed.

This would be an improvement, according to the memo. “Using a hearing examiner and affording full due process at the onset enhances the probability of getting to the correct outcome sooner, rather than a later, an issue that has haunted Title IX nationally in a litany of high profile court appeals in recent years.”

The memo notes that the regents’ current process is woven into a several areas of the policy manual, including the subsection on student code of conduct and the subsection on human rights complaints procedures.

“Consequently, the rough policy draft set forth in Attachment I represents a standalone policy that would be applicable to all sexual harassment matters. Once the substance of that policy is solidified, the ancillary policy adjustments will be addressed accordingly, with the final package coming back to the Board for final approval in August,” according to the memo.

The regents govern South Dakota State University at Brookings, University of South Dakota at Vermillion, Dakota State University at Madison, Northern State University at Aberdeen, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology at Rapid City, Black Hills State University at Spearfish, USD Community College for Sioux Falls, and BHSU-Rapid City.

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