The Interagency Task Force on Sexual Violence in Education (Task Force), created by the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA 2022 Reauthorization), presented its first report to Congress today. As required by the VAWA 2022 Reauthorization, the report focuses on recruiting, retaining, and training the U.S. Department of Education’s highly qualified workforce who investigate complaints and enforce Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) and section 485(f) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (Clery Act). The reauthorization of VAWA and the work of this Task Force continue a long commitment to action by President Biden, who was the primary Senate sponsor of the original Violence Against Women Act, which was enacted in 1994.
The Task Force, which includes the USDE, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), was established on Sept. 1, 2022. The VAWA 2022 Reauthorization required the Task Force’s first report to be completed by Nov. 30, 2022, which is no later than 90 days after the Task Force’s establishment.
“The Department of Education is fully committed to ensuring that every student has the right to learn in a safe environment free from harassment and sexual violence,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
“Sexual violence prevention, particularly in educational settings, is critical,” said U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra. “This report is the first step to providing critical information about gaps in federal law enforcement and resources. HHS looks forward to working across the federal government to advance trauma-informed health care and advocacy services for survivors.”
As required by Congress, the report provides information from the USDE’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Clery Group within the office of Federal Student Aid on the following topics:
- An assessment to identify gaps or challenges in carrying out such investigation and enforcement, which may include surveying the current investigative workforce to solicit feedback on areas in need of improvement.
- An examination of issues of recruiting, retention, and the professional development of the current investigative workforce, including the possibility of providing retention bonuses or other forms of compensation for the purpose of ensuring the USDE has the capacity, in both personnel and skills, needed to properly perform its mission and provide adequate oversight of educational institutions.
- An assessment of the benefits of outreach and training with both law enforcement agencies and educational institutions with respect to such workforce.
- An examination of best practices for making educational institutions aware of the most effective campus sexual violence prevention, investigation, and response practices and identifying areas where more research should be conducted. And,
- Strategies for addressing such other matters as the Secretary of Education considers necessary to sexual violence prevention, investigation, and responses.
In addressing the USDE’s work on best practices and strategies for preventing campus sexual violence, the report highlights a range of the Department’s programs, including its National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE)’s recent Lessons from the Field webinars on engaging school communities in preventing gender-based violence. Both featured leaders of prevention programming who provided practical, ready-to-use strategies for preventing sexual violence and other gender-based violence on college and university campuses and in secondary schools.
A full copy of the report can be found here.