Articles / 01.20.2020

SB 212: New Bill Requires Texas University Employees to Report Sexual Assault on Campus or Face Criminal Charges

SB 212 Changes the Title IX Process for Texas Universities

By Susan Stone & Kristina Supler

SB 212A new year brings new legislation in Texas as Senate Bill 212, requiring all employees at Texas universities to report sexual harassment, has taken effect. SB 212 makes Texas the first state to require reporting of incidents of sexual harassment, assault, stalking or dating violence from all university employees, not just the traditional mandatory reporters. As of January 1, employees failing to report could risk losing their jobs or worse, face criminal charges.

Prior to this bill, Title IX Coordinators and other appointed reporters held the primary responsibility of providing this information. According to Senator Joan Huffman, the author of the bill, SB 212 addresses gaps in reporting processes, which can vary by school.

The New Reporting Process Mandated by SB 212

Moving forward, university employees, Title IX coordinators and CEO’s must comply with the following procedures:

  1. When a university employee witnesses or receives information about a sexual assault, they must report it to the institutions Title IX coordinator(s);
  2. No less than once every three months, the Title IX coordinator(s) is required to submit a report to the university’s CEO;
  3. Each fall and spring semester, institutions must publish non-identifying information about the reports on their websites;
  4. Lastly, the CEO must certify that the institution is compliant with the law and report this compliance to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Employees that fail to report incidents can face either a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000, or a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

Universities that are non-compliant with SB 212 will be reported to lawmakers by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in January 2021. Those universities could face a fine of up to $2 million.

Student employees and employees of Texas colleges and universities who have experienced sexual misconduct are exempt from this law. Counselors, health workers and other employees with designated confidentiality are only required to report the type of incident that occurred.

Jennifer Smith, the Title IX coordinator at Texas A&M University, said this may put individuals who are not looking to pursue a Title IX investigation in an uncomfortable situation. “You risk re-victimizing a victim, who discloses something in confidence to another person,” she said. “A lot of our faculty and staff have expressed concern about violating that trust relationship with their students and with other co-workers.”

Although other states have reporting requirements for universities, SB 212 is pushing the frontier. Is this the start of another head-spinning year of changes in Title IX? Our practice will closely monitor developments as they impact our clients.

If you have any questions about Senate Bill 212 or would like to learn more about KJK’s Student & Athlete Defense/Title IX practice, please contact Susan Stone at scs@kjk.com or 216.736.7220, or Kristina Supler at kws@kjk.com or 216.736.7217.

 

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