Wesley College Reaches Agreement With U.S. Education Department - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wesley College Reaches Agreement With U.S. Education Department Over Title IX

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Wesley College in Dover (Photo: WBOC) Wesley College in Dover (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del. - The U.S. Department of Education announced on Wednesday that an agreement was reached between its Office for Civil Rights and Wesley College for a Title IX violation in the investigation of accusations of sexual misconduct.

The office determined that the Title IX rights of four students accused of sexual misconduct were violated, a finding that stemmed from a complaint filed on behalf of one of the students. The motion said the student was wrongly charged and expelled in 2015, just before he was set to graduate. 

The same punishment was meted to three other students accused of the same conduct.

OCR said Wesley did not offer the students "essential procedural protections" and did not adhere to safeguards in its own disciplinary policies and procedures.

Additionally, the office also determined the accused student about whom the complaint was filed did not receive a full opportunity to respond to the charges, rebut the allegations, or defend himself at his hearing.

While examining case files from 2013 to 2015, OCR determined that Wesley also violated Title IX in failing to have procedural safeguards and equitable investigations for other accused students. Several incidents, officials said, showed the college provided no evidence that accused students were interviewed before receiving interim suspensions, some on the same day.

Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, said in a statement that the agreement marks a commitment to fairly address sexual violence and sexual harassment for all parties involved. 

“I look forward to continuing to work with Wesley College to support its efforts to ensure student safety, including through promoting processes all students can believe in to protect their rights,” she said.

Wesley College President Robert Clark said the school has been fully cooperative with OCR and isn't taking a "finish-line" approach to the agreement. He said the school aspires to have an environment that promotes education and learning but is free from bias or harassment.

"It's something we need to continually look at. We need to continually evaluate. Are we doing the best we can, and if not, what can we do to do that?" he said.

The college agreed to the following in the agreement:

  • Determine whether it engaged in a sufficient level of inquiry prior to imposing interim suspensions upon the student and the other three accused students and provide specific remedial actions as warranted.
  • Complete its investigation of the incident involving the student and the other three accused in compliance with Title IX.
  • Re-investigate or address the investigative deficiencies OCR identified for specific case files from 2013 to 2015 and provide remedies as warranted.
  • Provide OCR with copies of incident files of alleged sexual harassment or sexual assault at the college for the 2017-2018 and 2018-19 academic years.
  • Publish an anti-harassment statement and revise its Title IX grievance procedures, and ensure that the responsibilities of the Title IX coordinator and deputy coordinators are consistent with Title IX. 
  • Provide training to ensure that all members of the college community – including students, faculty, administrators, and other staff – are trained regularly on issues related to the sexual harassment and violence requirements of Title IX. 
  • Enhance outreach to and feedback from students, including by conducting climate surveys with students on campus to assess the effectiveness of steps taken by the college towards providing a safe campus environment.
  • Convene a Title IX committee, composed of staff and students, to develop a plan for educating students and employees about sexual harassment and assault.

You can read the full report on the U.S. Department of Education's website.

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