DC Shuttle …
Administration Releases Rewrite of Sexual Assault Rule. The Trump administration unveiled its proposed overhaul of rules for schools handling allegations of sexual harassment and assault. The long-awaited proposal gathered quick response. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s decision to write new regulations under Title IX had been controversial. The new rules more narrowly define sexual harassment, let schools use a higher standard of evidence for discipline decisions and allow them to offer mediation to resolve cases. They also hold schools responsible only for allegations involving misconduct that occurred on campus. The rules are expected to guarantee students have a chance to cross-examine their accusers. The students could be in separate rooms and the questions could be delivered by third parties. It’s a major departure from Obama-era guidelines that discouraged the practice, which survivors’ advocates say is traumatizing. The department released a one page summary and a section-by-section summary. To view the proposed rule in its entirety, click here.
HELP Senators Introduce Bill to Better Share Student Data. The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee introduced a bipartisan bill to allow the IRS and Education Department to share more student data. Simplifying the application for federal student aid that has long been a goal of Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN). He and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) hope to get the legislation through Congress in the coming weeks, during the lame-duck session. The FAFSA Act, S. 3611, is also co-sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO). The bill would amend the the Internal Revenue Code, which currently prohibits the IRS from sharing taxpayer data with the Education Department. It would allow the IRS to disclose tax return information to department officials “determining eligibility for, and amount of, Federal student financial aid.”
School Safety Report Expected this Year and Will Likely Address School Discipline. Education Secretary DeVos has been chairing the school safety commission, which is expected to detail its recommendations in a report and rescind the school discipline guidelines by the end of the year. It is expected that report will address controversial issues like arming teachers and school discipline, in addition to student data sharing and privacy, school building security and mental health. The Trump administration has been planning to do away with controversial Obama-era school discipline guidelines in conjunction with the release of a long-awaited school safety report. The guidelines were issued in 2014 with the goal of ensuring that schools aren’t discriminating against students while disciplining them.
Hearing to Address VA Problems with GI Bill. Veterans Affairs (VA) officials appeared at a hearing before a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee panel regarding GI Bill processing delays. A top VA official told a frustrated congressional panel that the agency might not have a solution in place by 2019 to correct GI Bill processing problems that have led to payment delays for student veterans and paperwork issues for schools. Due to IT issues, the VA hasn’t been able to meet a requirement in a law passed last year that changed how a recipient’s housing allowance is calculated. The change was supposed to go into place on Aug. 1.
We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of Nov. 19, 2018. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.