The U.S. Department of Education said this week that the University of Akron is under investigation for its handling of a sexual assault.
UA was one of 12 colleges and universities named by the education department’s Office of Civil Rights because of complaints to federal authorities or because of compliance reviews. The UA investigation was opened May 6, according to the department.
A total of 67 colleges and universities are under investigation nationwide.
UA spokeswoman Eileen Korey confirmed that the university received an inquiry from the civil rights office in May “requesting information about a specific allegation made by a former student.”
She said she had “no further comment as we are in the process of responding to the department’s request.”
The Beacon Journal submitted a public records request for the Department of Education inquiry and for any UA records about the incident. No records have been turned over.
For the first time in its history, the civil rights office in May began releasing the names of colleges and universities it is investigating for possible Title IX violations. The names of 55 colleges and universities, including three in Ohio — Ohio State, Denison and Wittenberg universities — were publicized in May.
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said at the time that the office was trying to “bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights.”
The investigations aim to ensure that the targeted campuses are in compliance with federal law, but do not necessarily indicate that the colleges have violated any laws.
All colleges, universities and secondary schools that receive federal funds — and that is virtually all of them — must comply with Title IX, which requires them to respond to incidents of sexual misconduct, assault and harassment and to have policies in place that attempt to prevent such incidents.
Those that refuse to address the problems can lose funding or be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for further action.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.