The Office for Civil Rights has opened another case at Knox, bringing the total number of investigations into the college’s Title IX procedures up to four.
The case was opened by the OCR on Sept. 16, 2014, but was just added to the U.S. Department of Education’s list of open alleged sexual violence investigations at colleges as of Nov. 30, 2016, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
The new case at Knox was listed in the Chronicle’s weekly Title IX tracker email on Dec. 5. Title IX Coordinator Kim Schrader told The Knox Student in a phone interview that she personally became aware of the investigation in the last few days.
The Office for Civil Rights is a sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Education. It aims to ensure Title IX compliance and equal access to education through the enforcement of civil rights at all institutions that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
All four of the OCR investigations against Knox are still open. Two of the three other complaints were opened in January and June of 2014, while one was opened in April 2016.
Of the 345 cases the OCR has opened against since April 4, 2011, 57 have been resolved. There are currently 288 open investigations at 217 colleges. Knox’s nearby neighbor Monmouth College has one active investigation. Knox now has the most cases of any college or university in Illinois, according to the Chronicle. The University of Chicago has the second most, with three investigations, all of which are still open.
The OCR notifies colleges when they decide to launch an investigation and asks for any relevant information to the case, according to Schrader. The college is not aware that a complaint has been filed until the general public is.
Schrader said she is unsure as to why the OCR chose to wait more than two years after the initial complaint to open this investigation at Knox. Her assumption is the OCR reviews cases several times before deciding to investigate them.
TKS currently has an open Freedom of Information Act request with the OCR for all Letters of Notification sent by the OCR to Knox College. This request was submitted on Oct. 7, 2016 and has yet to be filled.
The Chronicle has already obtained these letters through FOIA for the three previously known investigations and has made them available online, but it does not currently have any documents available on the new case.
Both the OCR and Knox are dedicated to keeping the identity of survivors confidential, and any documents released through FOIA have all names and identifying information redacted. At this current time, Knox is still in the process of providing information to the OCR for the new investigation.
The Chronicle reports that on average, cases are closed after one and a half years, but some have been open for six years.
Two of Knox’s cases have already been open for over two years. Schrader is unsure of when they will be closed, as after the case is opened, it’s more in the hands of the OCR than the college, and all conversations are initiated by the OCR.
“We remain committed to risk reduction and prevention and awareness and being responsive to the needs of every person in our community; it’s heartbreaking that somebody feels as if the institution wasn’t as responsive as they would have hoped, at the same time we’re working towards making a climate where people know what their rights are, which includes filing a complaint,” Schrader said.
This is a developing story. Check back with The Knox Student for updates.