Last week, Arlington was caught in the middle of a national crossfire on Title IX.
On Sept. 7, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced at the George Mason University campus in Arlington that the administration was beginning to seek public comment before making revisions to Title IX changes made by the Obama administration six years ago that pushed for colleges to do more to investigate sexual violence on campuses.
Title IX is part of federal legislation that prohibits discrimination based on sex from participation in any educational program or activity receiving federal funding. The Obama administration guidelines told schools to adopt a “preponderance of evidence” standard when adjudicating cases of sexual violence rather than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in a court of law. But in her speech, DeVos called the move an overreach by the administration. Devos also argued the Obama administration guidelines had created problems for both victims of sexual violence through excess bureaucracy and those accused of sexual assault.
Across the county in the Westover Library, the First Ladies of Virginia, a group of wives to governors of Virginia, met to discuss the needs of Virginia public schools. The group did not address the Title IX announcement directly, but instead attacked DeVos in general and on her support for school vouchers.
“What they did today is turning back protections for those who survived campus sexual assault,” said Princess Moss, treasurer-secretary for the National Education Association and an elementary school teacher traveling with the group from Louisa County, after the conference. “That offends us. Turning back protections for victims is the whole DeVos agenda.”