Important Considerations for California Independent Schools that Utilize Emergency Federal Funds

As we approach the second month of COVID-19 driven disruption, California Independent Schools that have or will apply for emergency federal funding need to be aware of the compliance obligations they will be required to fulfill.

This includes requests for any federal economic relief, such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) or the recent Main Street Lending Program.

If you have received or are considering applying for additional relief, our partners at Liebert Cassidy Whitmore have put together a very informative post that provides a lot of important information on this topic.

As they highlight, there are extensive procedural requirements associated with requesting these types of aid that would not normally apply to independent schools. These include:

  • Title IX Coordinator: A school must designate at least one employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under Title IX. The school must notify all students and employees of the name and contact information of this individual.  A Title IX Coordinator shall oversee the reporting of Title IX complaints, oversee a school’s response to those complaints, and identify and address any patterns of incidents reported.  The Coordinator may also hold additional responsibilities, such as training students, faculty, and staff on Title IX, conducting investigations, and implementing interim measures required to stop and prevent sexual misconduct under Title IX.  The Title IX Coordinator must be sufficiently familiar with the Title IX requirements to ensure effective implementation.
  • Grievance Procedures: A school must adopt and publish grievance procedures that provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of student and employee complaints alleging a violation of Title IX.
  • Investigations: A school’s procedures must provide for adequate, reliable, and impartial fact-finding investigations, and provide for written notice to the complainant and respondent of the outcome of the complaint.
  • Employee Reporting Obligations: Title IX responsible employees must report any possible sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator or other appropriate school designee (subject to a few exceptions). Responsible employees are those with the authority to redress sexual misconduct or those that a student reasonably believes to have that authority.  This Title IX requirement may overlap with other separate mandated reporting requirements.
  • Taking Effective Action: Title IX requires schools to take steps to ensure equal access to its educational programs and activities. This often will include discipline against someone who violates school policy, providing accommodations to a victim, and implementing interim measures necessary to protect a complainant during an investigation.
  • Training and Education: A school must ensure that responsible employees and employees who may encounter student sexual misconduct are trained in identifying, preventing, and investigating sexual misconduct as required by Title IX. Students and employees must also receive training regarding their rights under Title IX.  Certain California laws are relevant for this training.
  • No Retaliation: Title IX prohibits retaliation against any individual asserting rights under Title IX. A school must take steps to prevent retaliation against a student or employee who files a complaint.  A school must also take steps to ensure that its own remedial efforts to protect the complainant are not retaliatory in and of themselves.

To read more about these and additional requirements, click here.

Guidance and regulations surrounding these loan programs continue to evolve. Given the lack of timeline surrounding the pandemic, schools must consider these options and do so carefully.

 


Jamie Gershon

About Jamie Gershon

Jamie Gershon specializes in developing long-term, strategic insurance and risk management programs for a range of Bolton's Northern California clients. As a member of Bolton's Education Practice Group, Jamie is dedicated to the diverse and ever-evolving needs of his education clients. In addition, he is passionate about supporting the needs of nonprofit and human service organizations, wholesalers, real estate and technology firms.

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