Biden’s Latest Gift to Teachers’ Unions: No More Data Collection of Teacher Rape and Sexual Assault

The Big Picture

Since assuming office, President Biden has steadfastly applied one rule—rescind every regulation promulgated under President Trump. This rule is applied regardless of whether the costs of rescinding the regulation outweigh the benefits. As a result, President Biden’s approval rating hovers around a dismal 41 percent.

While some might think President Biden is rescinding Trump-era regulations only in the immigration context, the effort is across all of government. President Biden’s Department of Education (the Department) is considering whether to rescind or maintain a Trump regulation that required school districts to report allegations of student rape, alleged rape, or sexual assault (cases other than rape) to the Department for incidents when school staff:

  • resigned or retired prior to final discipline or termination.
  • were responsible or were not responsible for the offense.
  • had a determination that remained pending.
  • were reassigned to another school prior to final discipline or termination.

Instead, the Department will require school districts to report only the number of documented incidents–not including allegations–of offenses committed by a school staff member that occurred at the school for offenses of rape, attempted rape, and sexual assault. This rule benefits one group and one group only—the teachers’ unions. In the 2020 election cycle, Joe Biden received more money from teachers’ unions than any other candidate. In total, teachers’ unions spent more than $42 million, more than any previous year.

The Details

  • Reports of sexual violence have been on the rise in our nation’s schools. In the 2015 through 2016 school year, there were 9,600 incidents. In the 2017 through 2018 school year, there were almost 15,000. This represents an increase of 55 percent.
  • Sexual Assault: In the 2015 through 2016 school year, there were 9,255 incidents of sexual assault. In the 2017 through 2018 school year, there were 14,152 incidents. This represents an increase of 53 percent.
  • Rape or Attempted Rape: In the 2015 through 2016 school year, there were 394 incidents of rape or attempted rape. In the 2017 through 2018 school year, there were 786 incidents. This represents an increase of more than 99 percent.

Why It Matters

The Department’s proposal makes two key changes to the Trump regulation. First, it removes the need for school districts to report to the Department allegations of school staff involvement in student rape, alleged rape, or sexual assault for incidents when staff resigned or retired prior to final discipline or termination, were responsible for the offense, were not responsible for the offense, had a determination that remained pending, or were followed by a duty reassignment prior to final discipline or termination. These incidents will now go unreported. Second, instead of all allegations against school staff, school districts will need to report only documented offenses committed by a school staff member against a student for offenses of rape, attempted rape, and sexual assault.

While the difference between allegations and documented incidents might not seem important, there is a key distinction between the two. Many students might be afraid to go on record against their teachers, and instead seek refuge with the guidance counselor or other trusted school staff. These students might be afraid of teacher retaliation or making allegations against popular school staff. These incidents will now go unreported because they are only allegations, not documented incidents. After a school year that saw almost 15,000 incidents of sexual violence, it is the wrong time to narrow what incidents school districts must report to the Department.

In addition, the Department will no longer collect data on allegations of rape, alleged rape, or sexual assault when school staff resigned, retired, or were reassigned prior to final discipline or termination. However, this data provides an important piece of information. Parents and students should know if school staff is evading discipline by resigning or retiring before an investigation is complete. It helps parents make an informed choice as to what school or school district they should send their child to. The data is also important for school boards and state legislatures to craft legislation to respond to school staff that resigns or retires to short-circuit an investigation into their own wrongdoing. States might also pass legislation that prevents school staff from being reassigned until an investigation into their own wrongdoing is complete.

Lastly, the Department will no longer collect data on allegations of rape, alleged rape, or sexual assault when school staff were determined not to beresponsible for the offense, or the investigation is still pending. After 15,000 reported incidents of sexual violence in the 2017 through 2018 school year, this data is crucially important. Parents need to feel confident that their school or school district is handling these allegations in a serious way. For example, no parent would honestly believe that every allegation made against school staff that was thoroughly investigated was disproved. Nor would any parent believe a school thoroughly investigated a series of incidents in less than a week’s time. Yet, if the Department has its way, parents will no longer be able to access this data at all. As a result, parents will not be able to make an informed choice as to what school they should send their child to.

The sole beneficiary of this proposed rule is obvious: the teachers’ unions. These unions that helped President Biden get elected are now seeking to shield school staff from allegations of rape, alleged rape, or sexual assault.This rule does not serve the best interests of students and parents. Without this crucially important data, parents will struggle to make an informed choice as to whether to keep their children in the school they are in or move them to another. Moreover, parents will not have confidence that their school district is handling allegations of rape, alleged rape, or sexual assault in a thorough and evenhanded way.

We need to let President Biden and the Department of Education know that we will not allow the teachers’ unions to protect staff that have been credibly accused of rape, alleged rape, or sexual assault at the expense of the safety of our nation’s students. Public comments on the proposal are being accepted until February 11. You may file your comment here.

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