Professor suspects nearly 300 complaints led to new categories
Mark Perry noticed something interesting in the course of his hobby of filing sex discrimination complaints against women-only scholarships and education programs.
The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights had recently created two new “issue codes” for Title IX cases starting in January. They cover “single sex campus programs” and “single sex scholarships” – Perry’s complaint specialty.
The codes were so recent, in fact, that the Archive.org tracker for the “pending cases” page shows they were not mentioned until after Feb. 24.
Why were these codes created? The department won’t give a straight answer.
Perry, an economist at the University of Michigan-Flint, notified The College Fix of his discovery and speculated the new codes are a response to the increasing number of complaints filed by him and the Title IX reform group Stop Abusive and Violent Environments.
He and SAVE “and some others” have filed nearly 300 related complaints, Perry wrote in an email:
I assume that OCR needs those two new codes to help the 12 regional OCR offices keep track of the complaints, investigations, and resolutions, and to recognize the importance/relevance and of those two new categories. I don’t know for sure, but it seems reasonable that once OCR received nearly 300 complaints for those two categories in just the last year or two, it needed to replace “Other” with the two new issue codes. So I think the two new issue codes reflect the success that SAVE and I have had getting Title IX complaints reviewed and leading to more than 100 OCR federal investigations.
When The Fix asked a department spokesperson for some information on the addition of these codes, including why and when they were added and how such cases were previously categorized, the answer was revealing in its vagueness.
The issue codes “reflect the legal issues raised by the underlying facts,” and OCR “[p]eriodically” updates the system with new codes to improve its “ability to categorize and track issues with greater specificity,” the spokesperson wrote in an email late afternoon Monday:
OCR recently implemented two new issue codes in its case management system under Title IX for cases received in or after January 2020: “single sex campus programs” (discrimination on the basis of sex in campus programs) and “single sex scholarships” (discrimination on the basis of sex in scholarship programs). Because the issue codes are assigned on a fact-specific basis, OCR cannot generalize how allegations of discrimination on the basis of sex in campus programs or in scholarship programs may have been categorized prior to January 2020.
The spokesperson did not respond to a followup asking why the department would create new codes unless it had received so many complaints on these narrow issues that it became impractical to track them without their own unique codes.
The Fix found 18 cases listed under “single sex scholarships” and 26 under “single sex campus programs” as of Monday night. The oldest in both categories was opened for investigation on the same day – Jan. 31, 2018 – against the same institution – the University of Southern California. None was opened later than March 30, 2020, in either category.
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