A number of civil rights organizations are urging the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to investigate claims that some colleges are requiring students to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) or other agreements as a condition of having their Title IX claims investigated and/or to receive supportive services from their schools.
Some of these organizations are Equal Rights Advocates; L.L. Dunn Law Firm, PLLC; Atlanta Women for Equality; California Women's Law Center; Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE); Clearinghouse on Women's Issues; Jewish Women International; and Know Your IX, Advocates for Youth.
The groups sent a letter Thursday to ED’s Civil Rights office regarding this issue. The letter outlines abuses from multiple U.S. schools.
“The agreements — conditioning access to a school’s grievance process on silence and a forfeiture of other rights or due process — are coercive, unconscionable, and retaliatory,” the letter states. “They violate federal law and policy aimed at protecting students, many of whom are minors. Schools engaged in this practice are creating unsafe educational environments which disproportionately impact women, girls, students of color, and students in the LGBTQI+ community. Although establishing some degree of confidentiality for sensitive and private information disclosed in the campus grievance process is appropriate, this can be achieved in far better ways than requiring unconditional assent to such agreements.”
The groups, via the letter, also make several other requests, one of which is for the ED to explicitly prohibit the use of confidentiality agreements as prerequisites to investigating and providing support to students during a sexual misconduct grievance process.