Apparently prompted by allegations from students and advocates, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is reportedly directing an audit, to be conducted by representatives from the New York State Department of Education, Department of Health, Office of Victim Services and State Police, of institutions’ compliance with Education Law Article 129-B, the so-called “Enough is Enough” campus sexual violence legislation.
According to published reports, between now and September 1, the audit would review institutional policies and websites to determine compliance with, among other things, the statutory requirements for adoption of policies and disclosures to students. A second phase would then examine institutions’ handling of individual cases.
The precise details of these reviews are as yet unknown, but the second phase has the potential to equal or exceed, in scope and depth, reviews conducted by the Office for Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education under Title IX. OCR reviews are, of course, typically prompted by individual complaints. By contrast, the Governor’s audit program, if it proceeds as reported, would apparently target all colleges and universities in New York State, essentially subjecting them to a similar process even in the absence of particular concerns or complaints.
Pursuant to Education Law Section 6440(3), the Education Department had previously indicated its intent to conduct “random audits, at any time after September 1, 2016” to monitor compliance with the statutory requirements. This initiative, however, appears to be more comprehensive in terms of its coverage of institutions throughout the State, seemingly in conflict with the statutory dictate that audits be conducted “by random selection.”
Needless to say, the roll-out and implementation of this initiative bear watching.