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HB 1735 directs the commissioner of higher education to create an advisory committee to (1) make recommendations to THECB regarding rules implementing the new law and (2) develop recommended training for responsible and confidential employees. The bill also provides for negotiated rulemaking in which THECB “shall consult with relevant stakeholders.” 51.295(b). A report under section 51.252 must include “all information concerning the incident known to the reporting person that was relevant to the investigation and, if applicable, redress of the incident, including whether the alleged victim expressed a desire for confidentiality.” § 51.252(c). Interestingly, the bill also contains a civil immunity provision for any person who “in good faith” makes a report, assists in the investigation of a report, or otherwise participates in the institution’s disciplinary process. This category of individuals also “may not be subjected to any disciplinary action by the postsecondary educational institution at which the person is enrolled or employed for any violation by the person of the institution’s code of conduct reasonably related to the incident for which suspension or expulsion from the institution is not a possible punishment.” The immunity protection in Section 51.254 does not extend to individuals who perpetrated or assisted in the perpetration of a reported offense. SB 212 permits THECB to assess an administrative penalty up to million dollars against institutions it determines are not in substantial compliance with the law.
The digital world, namely smartphones and social media, has changed the face of abuse.
HB 1735 requires institutions to incorporate the following elements into its disciplinary proceedings for incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking involving students: § 51.286.
New training is both required by these laws and prudent in any event.
“But the one emotion that determines and, for me, defines if there’s abuse or not is if one of them is afraid of the other.” Cases of domestic and dating violence often go unreported, but most that are reported are collected from the National Teen Dating Violence hotline.
Texas ranks number two in the nation for call volume to the hotline and San Antonio ranks number four in the state behind Houston, Dallas, and Austin.
The most notable requirements are summarized below. Institutions should obviously review current disciplinary practices and processes to assess compliance with these laws.