SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general in a letter calling on Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought to suspend the federal rulemaking process for the proposed regulation on Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 (Title IX) during the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has put unprecedented strain on schools and students across the country. Attorney General Becerra previously led a coalition of 19 attorneys general in filing a comment letter opposing the proposed changes to Title IX. With school resources already stretched thin, now is not the time to burden schools with new, complex regulations, which will require schools to revise and implement new policies. Further, OMB recently put out a directive to federal agencies to take appropriate steps to prioritize directing all resources toward the slowing of the transmission of COVID-19, while ensuring mission-critical activities continue.
“During this pandemic, we need to do everything in our power to help our students, parents and schools get through these unprecedented times,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Now is not the time to advance a proposal that would increase burdens on schools fighting to protect our children. We urge Secretary DeVos and Acting Director Vought to delay finalizing these rules at this time. It’s going to take all of us working together to keep our students safe during this crisis.”
In the letter to Secretary DeVos and Acting Director Vought, the coalition urges the Trump Administration to suspend the Title IX rulemaking process until the national emergency has ended. The attorneys general highlight the unprecedented steps schools are taking all across the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, in response to this extraordinary national public health emergency, more than 90 percent of K-12 institutions have closed or will be closing, affecting more than 55 million students and their families. In addition, more than 1,100 colleges are temporarily closed and are transitioning to remote learning, affecting more than 14.5 million students.
Title IX is a landmark law that is immensely important to states, students, families, teachers, and communities. California has a strong interest in vigorously enforcing state anti-discrimination laws that work in conjunction with Title IX and promote students’ ability to learn in a safe environment free from violence and harassment. Title IX states: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Attorney General Becerra remains committed to protecting Californians and people across the country during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Earlier this week, Attorney General Becerra called on Amazon and Whole Foods to step up efforts to protect workers by providing adequate paid sick leave. Last week, Attorney General Becerra urged the Trump Administration to halt implementation of the “Public Charge” rule, which could undermine public health efforts to combat COVID-19. The Attorney General also called on nine large companies to intensify their efforts to tackle price gouging on their platforms in relation to COVID-19. For the latest on COVID-19 preparedness, please visit https://covid19.ca.gov/.
In sending the letter, Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of Pennsylvania, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the letter is available here.