Law firm determines MSU did not properly certify Title IX violations in 2021
EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A completed review by a law firm found that Michigan State University (MSU) did not certify Title IX violations.
The MSU Board of Trustees announced on Friday that they retained the law firm of Honigman LLP to investigate whether the University properly followed state law to certify that former MSU President Samuel Stanley, who stepped down on Friday, and a member of the Board of Trustees reviewed all the 2021 Title IX reports involving the alleged sexual misconduct of employees.
Title IX is an Education Amendment that prohibits discrimination based on sex in educational programs and activities.
Honigman partner Matthew Schneider led the investigation, who was the former United States Attorney in Detroit.
According to the board, Honigman reviewed over 24,000 documents and interviewed 18 witnesses including all eight Trustees, former MSU President Stanley, as well as current and former university employees. Honigman concluded that MSU failed to meet its obligations under state law in which the President needed to certify that he and at least one Board member reviewed each Title IX report involving an employee.
According to a document released by the MSU Board of Trustees, if a university fails to submit a certification, the State Budget Director “shall withhold 10% of that university’s annual operations funding until the university submits certification.”
Honigman also said that the President of MSU relied on incorrect information that was provided by the MSU Title IX Office. A third thing that was looked over was the actions taken by the Board of Trustees in 2022, who according to Honigman, took proactive steps to ensure the President and at least one Board member had reviewed each 2021 Title IX report. Finally, the board said they hope this incident can help improve their future process and have already taken the steps to do so.
Dan Kelly is the MSU Board of Trustees Vice Chair and Chair of the Audit, and Risk and Compliance Committee of the Board.
“The investigation’s findings confirm that little, if anything, was done by the President to address the certification concerns raised by the Board for over two years,” said Kelly. “The Board remains committed to improving our Title IX processes to avoid a repeat in the future and will take seriously the recommendations contained in the report. We look forward to the Interim President’s commitment to improve communication and our mutual goal of exemplary Title IX enforcement.”
They determined that there were significant breakdowns in MSU’s Title IX reporting process that prevented the University from properly certifying to the state. Honigman made recommendations for improving the reporting process including restructuring how the University reviews and distributes Title IX reports, creating consistency in the review process, establishing a regular auditing process, and offering increased training.
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