HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's best know for guaranteeing girls equal access to school sports, but a part of a U.S. law known as Title IX also monitors the handling of sexual violence complaints by schools.
On Thursday, The University of Hawaii at Manoa was named by the U.S. Department of Education as one of the 55 higher education institutions under investigation for the possible mishandling of sexual violence complaints.
The list of schools was compiled by the Department's Office for Civil Rights after a series of on-campus audits that examined the way schools handled possible Title IX violations, specifically over the way sexual assault and harassment claims are managed.
"We are making this list available in an effort to bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights," Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said. "We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue."
Lhamon went on to say that a university's appearance on the list did not explicitly indicate that it had violated the law, only that it was under investigation for possible complaints.
U.H. officials didn't even know they were being investigated until Hawaii News Now told them Thursday afternoon.
A press release said in part: "The list does not differentiate between the schools that -- like UH Manoa -- have been selected for proactive compliance reviews, versus those schools that are under audit based on a complaint."
But, according to the records released, this is not a 'proactive compliance review' and U.H. does indeed have an open complaint from almost one year ago.
It was only after a U.H. spokeswoman was directed to a comment by the U.S. Education Secretary did the school realize that visits by auditors were not part of the investigation process.
"No one probably loves to have their name on that list," said Arne Duncan said in a White House briefing, "But we'll investigate; we'll go where the facts are.