The Office of the President should clarify in the UC policies that if university officials approve an extension to an investigative timeline, the extension should be restricted to a single extension of no more than 30 days, except in limited circumstances that are beyond the university's control.
UCOP acknowledges that the SVSH Policy does not state that an investigation's extension shall be limited to no more than 30 days except in limited circumstances that are beyond the university's control.
Federal regulations provide that a prompt, fair and impartial proceeding is one that is "[c]ompleted within reasonably prompt timeframes designated by an institution's policy, including a process that allows for the extension of timeframes for good cause with written notice to the accuser and the accused of the delay and the reason for the delay." 34 CFR 668.46(k)(3)(i)(A). Current federal guidance provides that "[t]here is no fixed time frame under which a school must complete a Title IX investigation." (OCR "Q&A on Sexual Misconduct" (September 2017).)
Balancing the need for a fairness and impartiality, along with the need for promptness, UCOP maintains that the SVSH Policy provision that a Formal Investigation "shall be completed promptly, typically within 60 business days of its initiation, unless extended by the Title IX Officer for good cause followed by written notice to the Complainant and Respondent of the reason for the extension and the projected new timeline," is compliant with relevant law, guidance and best practices.
UC's response indicates that it does not plan to implement this recommendation, citing current federal guidance which states that there is no fixed time frame under which a school must complete a Title IX investigation. However, our recommendation was not based on the existence of a federally-mandated time frame. Instead, it was based on the lack of timeliness we noted among certain investigations we tested and our observation that UC's policy did not restrict how long approved extensions could be, as discussed on page 61 of our report. This was in contrast to the policy of the California State University system for extensions, which we noted allowed no more than 30 working days from the original due date. Further, although UC's response refers to the portion of its policy that states that investigations shall be completed typically within 60 business days, unless extended for good cause, it should be noted that a provision within the appendix to the policy could allow for even more time. That provision states that the process, including all appeals, will be completed within 120 business days, unless extended for good cause.
UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment was revised and was effective January 1, 2016. The new student adjudication process was finalized and implemented in January 2016. The new student investigation model includes timelines and addresses the process for extensions of timelines.
As we note on page.61 of our report, the UC system policy at the time we conducted our audit stated that a formal investigation should be completed within 60 working days in most cases and allowed for approval of timeline extensions. However, the UC system policy did not restrict how long the extensions could be. Therefore, we recommended the UC system policy be clarified to restrict extensions if approved to a single extension of no more than 30 days, except in limited circumstances that were beyond the university's control. The UC system's current policy has been revised to state "the University will complete the process, including all appeals, within 120 business days from the date of Title IX's receipt of a report. This deadline and all deadlines contained herein may be extended for good cause shown and documented. The complainant and respondent will be notified in writing of any extension." However, this does not restrict the number of extensions nor does it state the 120 business days will be extended only in limited circumstances. Further, it allows more time to finalize a formal investigation.
The current UC Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence (http://policy.ucop.edu/doc/4000385) includes provisions regarding the need for approval for extensions of investigative timelines. A full revision of the policy is underway and a final policy revision is scheduled to be complete in January 2016. In addition, the Student Adjudication Model Framework is being finalized and addresses the issue of timelines and extensions.
The current UC Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence (http://policy.ucop.edu/doc/4000385) includes provisions regarding the need for approval for extensions of investigative timelines. In addition, a full revision of the policy is underway and a final policy revision is scheduled to be complete in Fall 2015.
The University is updating its policy on sexual harassment/sexual violence in accordance with the Final Regulations on amendments to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) issued on October 20, 2014 and recently enacted changes in California law. The updated policy will be implemented no later than July 1, 2015. President Napolitano's Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault developed key recommendations regarding implementing reporting and the complaint processes, utilization of consistent nomenclature, uniform advocacy and case management services, and education and training. The Task Force continues its work implementing its recommendations to ensure that students receive the University's policy on sexual harassment/sexual violence, and have a clear understanding of their rights and expectations when filing a complaint.
The University revised its policy on sexual harassment/sexual violence in February 2014 to bring the policy in line with amendments to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). We will update our policy accordingly after the final rule for VAWA is promulgated in November. President Napolitano's Task Force for Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault is reviewing current practices regarding dissemination of policy, information on reporting and the complaint process, and utilization of consistent nomenclature to ensure that students receive the University's policy on sexual harassment/sexual violence, and have a clear understanding of their rights and expectations when filing a complaint.
Agency responses received are posted verbatim.