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A FOIA Request Made The Boston Title IX Office Look Bad, So They Redid It

At the end of April, The Daily Wire reported that the Boston regional office of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) had never accepted a complaint from a male alleging sexual harassment — whether as an accuser or the accused claiming bias.

The documentation came in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by University of Southern California (USC) doctoral candidate Kursat Christoff Pekgoz. His request revealed that since 2011 — the year the Obama administration posted new rules regarding how schools must respond to sexual assault accusations — the Boston regional office had not accepted a Title IX complaint in the sexual harassment category from an accusing or accused male.

During this same period, the office went after colleges and universities, such as Harvard Law School, for allegedly discriminating against female accusers.

The Boston office did not respond at that time to a Daily Wire inquiry.

Days later, the office finally responded and asked for the FOIA request number. Days after that, the Wire received a phone call from the U.S. Department of Education saying the office had reviewed the original FOIA request and apparently searched its investigative database incorrectly.

After running the search again to look for discrimination against men between January 1, 2011 and March 15, 2018 (the range of the original FOIA request), the office found that it has actually opened 16 investigations alleging bias against men at post-secondary institutions.

The updated data was provided to the Wire, and shows that the first case accepted by the Boston office was opened in 2014 against Brandeis University. The case was closed by “administrative closure,” the data showed.

Of the 16 cases, three were against Brandeis in Massachusetts. Ivy League institutions Dartmouth, Harvard, and Yale were also each on the list once. Nine of the cases have been closed, two of which were categorized as “dismissals,” three were categorized as “administrative closure,” one was categorized as a “resolution agreement” (against Roger Williams University School of Law). The final three were labeled “FRBP/ECR” which means they resulted in a Facilitated Resolution Between the Parties.

The remaining seven cases are still “under investigation.” The longest of the cases still under investigation was opened on August 13, 2015 against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Details of the cases were not provided in the data.

Pekgoz filed the original FOIA along with another request seeking copies of acknowledgement letters (verifying that an investigation was open) for all complaints filed by men in the sexual harassment category of Title IX. Though every other regional office produced material for the request, Boston did not.

This office now claims the FOIA request was improperly searched, which Pekgoz found questionable. He told the Wire that one of the people who collected the original data had access to a computer at OCR headquarters, which could track national data.

“Based on all this, I find it impossible to believe that the Boston Office somehow failed to understand both FOIA requests (especially since all other regional offices did). So they are either extremely biased, or extremely incompetent,” Pekgoz said.

Further, Pekgoz explained that the resolution categories provided by the Education Department were misleading. “Dismissal” means an investigation was not actually accepted and “administrative closure” means the case had been filed elsewhere without adjudicating its merits. He also said that “resolution agreement” may not mean favorable terms for an accused male.

“I have seen situations in which OCR ostensibly accepted a complaint to investigate discrimination against a male student and ended up authoring resolution letters that primarily benefit female accusers,” he said.

He told the Wire one of his own Title IX complaints, against USC, resulted in a resolution that was “diametrically opposite to my allegations, and this was still labelled a ‘resolution letter.’"

 
 
 

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