U.S. Education Department Settles Sexual Assault Case with Minot State University, N.D.

Archived Information

U.S. Education Department Settles Sexual Assault Case with Minot State University, N.D.

July 7, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced today that it has entered into a resolution agreement with Minot State University, North Dakota, after finding the university in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

OCR found that the university failed to process a complaint brought by a former student (Student A) who reported that during her time at the school, she had been sexually assaulted for over two years by one of her professors. Despite the serious nature of the complaint, OCR determined that Minot State did not take any steps to address the effects of the hostile environment to which the student reported she had been subjected.

“Minot State University has committed to take critically necessary steps to bring its practices, and its policies, into compliance with Title IX, correcting significant safety gaps that had persisted for too long for its students,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. “I am grateful for the university’s commitment to satisfying its students’ civil rights going forward.”

Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

In addition to finding violations related to Student A, OCR’s review of other student complaints of sexual assault and harassment found that Minot State failed to respond promptly and equitably, including by failing to assess whether the students were subjected to a hostile environment. In addition, OCR found that the university’s failure to coordinate with its law enforcement personnel led to Title IX violations - only one of four complaints of sexual harassment reported to campus security officers actually led to a campus Title IX investigation.  Further, OCR found that the university’s Title IX policies and procedures and its notice of nondiscrimination did not comply with Title IX.

Under the resolution agreement, Minot State agreed to take actions to remedy the Title IX violations, including the following:

  • Offer Student A, at the university’s expense, counseling and other remedies, as appropriate, to address any emotional, psychological, academic, or employment issues she faced as a result of the university’s delay in processing her complaint.
  • Develop a procedure to document each incident or complaint of discrimination on the basis of sex (including sexual assault and harassment) received by the university.
  • Submit for OCR’s review and approval, copies of all grievances filed with the university and related investigative documentation during the 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18 academic years that allege sexual assault and harassment.
  • Retain an equity consultant with expertise in all areas of compliance with Title IX.
  • Revise its Title IX policies and grievance procedures and its code of conduct, including its notice of nondiscrimination and grievance procedures, to ensure that they provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints of sexual assault and harassment.
  • Develop a written protocol between university police and the university’s Title IX coordinator governing promptly notifying each other and coordinating when either receives a complaint of sexual harassment or assault.
  • Periodically review the terms of the university’s new memorandum of understanding with the Minot Police Department to improve communication and coordination regarding allegations of sexual assault and sexual violence.
  • Provide training to students and staff on the university’s revised Title IX policies and grievance procedures.
  • Create a committee to identify strategies for ensuring that students understand their rights under Title IX.
  • Conduct periodic climate checks to assess the effectiveness of steps taken to provide for a campus free of sexual assault and harassment.

A copy of the resolution letter can be found here.  A copy of the resolution agreement can be found here.

OCR's mission is to ensure equal access to education and promote educational excellence throughout the nation through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights. OCR is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination by educational institutions on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, sex, and age, as well as the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act of 2001. Additional information about OCR is available here.