A federal court has denied a preliminary injunction to stop or delay the implementation of the new Title IX regulations. The court found the plaintiffs had not established that they are likely to succeed on their claims or to suffer substantial irreparable harm.
The plaintiffs argued the K-12 grievance process exceeded the Department’s authority and is arbitrary and capricious. The court noted that the Final Rule’s requirements may not be the best way to handle Title IX in K-12 schools, but did not find that the plaintiffs would be likely to show it was arbitrary and capricious. The Final Rule includes different requirements for K-12 than for post-secondary schools. The court could not substitute its own judgment for the Department’s when the Department had considered the data and there was “a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.”
The plaintiffs also argued the Department exceeded its authority by penalizing schools for investigating or punishing conduct that did not fit within the Final Rule’s definition of sexual harassment as Title IX violations. The court found they had “not squarely presented this argument.” The court also noted that the challenged portions of the Final Rule seemed to be rooted in the authority the Department was granted by Title IX. Finally, the Department indicated that it did not intend to withhold funding from a school for mischaracterizing a disciplinary proceeding as a Title IX proceeding, but would instead seek to clarify the nature of the proceeding for the parties. The plaintiffs therefore had not shown that they were likely to succeed on their claim the Department exceeded its authority by penalizing schools that took a broader view of sexual harassment generally, or even in the specific case of the mandatory dismissal of complaints alleging harassment that did not meet the Title IX definition.