Violence Against Women Act of 2013


Violence Against Women  Act of 2013

Important Changes for Campus Safety & Security Reporting
Law week the U.S. Department of Education published final regulations implementing
the changes made by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013
(VAWA). This law now requires schools to compile statistics for incidents of domestic
violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking (collectively referred to as “sexual
misconduct”) that occur on or near campus. It also requires that schools disclose certain
policies, procedures and programs pertaining to these incidents in their annual security
VAWA significantly expanded the details and disclosures that schools must report
regarding campus safety and security. Schools must now disclose all incidents of sexual
misconduct in their annual crime statistics. A school’s annual security report must also
include policy statements describing the school’s programs to prevent incidents of
sexual misconduct and describe the procedures that the school will follow once an
incident has been reported. Specifically, the annual security report must address the
following areas:
1. The school’s educational programs to promote awareness of sexual misconduct;
2. Possible sanctions that the school may impose regarding sexual misconduct;
3. Procedures that victims should follow if an incident of sexual misconduct has
4. The school’s procedures for conducting a disciplinary proceeding in cases of
alleged sexual misconduct;
5. Information about how the school will protect the confidentiality of a victim;
6. Written notification to students and employees about counseling, health, victim
advocacy, legal assistance and other services available for victims; and
7. Written notification to victims about available accommodations to academic and
living arrangements, if the victim requests such accommodations.
Although the final regulations were not published until October 20, 2014, schools were
required to comply with the VAWA changes in the preparation of their annual security
reports that were due to be issued to employees, students and prospective students no
later than October 1, 2014. In Dear Colleague Letter GEN-14-13, the Department stated
that until the final regulations were published and effective, schools were required tomake a good faith effort to comply with the VAWA provisions as written. The regulations
have now been finalized, and are effective July 1, 2015.
The VAWA requirements present particular challenges to smaller schools and trade
schools, such as cosmetology schools. These schools typically do not have on-campus
police or dedicated security forces. The Title IX coordinator at these schools is often the
director or another administrator whose primary job functions pertain to school
operations. Given the size of the student body, lack of residential student housing and
limited school-sponsored extracurricular activities, incidents of sexual misconduct may
be infrequent at these types of institutes.
The final regulations published last week are nearly identical to the proposed
regulations that the Department published in June 2014. During the proposed
regulations’ public comment period, a number of commenters noted the significant
compliance burden that the regulations place on small institutions. For example, the
commenters referenced the requirement for institutional disciplinary proceedings in the
case of alleged dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. In
response, the Department noted that institutions are not making determinations of
criminal responsibility but are determining whether the institution’s own rules have been
violated. The Department further noted that students at smaller institutions should have
the same protections as their counterparts at larger institutions. The Department also
denied a commenter’s request that the Department develop and provide required
training at no cost to small institutions.
In the event that an incident of sexual misconduct does occur, a school and its team
must be ready and able to respond appropriately. For example, under VAWA all
participating Title IV schools must have policies and procedures for investigating sexual
misconduct claims and conduct disciplinary hearings upon the reporting of such claims.
These hearings must be conducted by school officials who receive annual training on
issues related to sexual misconduct and on how to conduct a hearing process that
protects the safety of victims and promotes accountability. The final regulations make it
clear that even the smallest of Title IV schools must have these policies, procedures
and programs in place.
The Department has published additional resources for schools and students
addressing the issues covered under VAWA. The Department created the website, which contains resources for students and guidance for schools seeking
to implement the changes required by VAWA. The school resources include a
checklist for schools to use in creating the policies and procedures for addressing
incidents of sexual misconduct on their campuses. The Department also noted that it
will update The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting to reflect these
new regulations.This article was written by Attorney Christopher DeLuca of DeLuca Law LLC. If you
would like more information about Chris and his practice, please visit , or contact him at THIS IS AN

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