Date of Award

Spring 4-15-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Eunyoung Kim, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Kelchen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sarah McMahon, Ph.D.


Title IX, higher education, deliberate indifference, due process


Title IX, a federal education policy put into place in the early 1970s, has been under the microscope for its perceived failure to protect students from sexual misconduct. Since 2011, and especially since 2017, conflict has existed among higher education, the judicial system, and the Department of Education (ED), resulting in little clarity as to proper Title IX response. However, little research exists that attempts to examine court cases for both commonalities and divergence in how higher education institutions respond to Title IX incidents of sexual misconduct and whether those procedures mesh with how the courts view proper Title IX incident response. The purpose of this study is to examine what court opinions reveal about how institutions of higher education (IHEs) are responding to Title IX and how those responses align with courts’ interpretations of proper Title IX response. To discover the answers to the research questions, a document analysis was conducted of more than 30 appellate court decisions, looking at the major themes and trends that illustrate how IHEs responded to Title IX incidents of student sexual misconduct and whether those responses were reasonable in the eyes of the appellate courts. The appellate court opinions reveal that while IHEs have responded consistently to Title IX incidents of sexual misconduct, institutions have had issues with Title IX personnel holding conflicting roles and with avoiding gender bias. In addition, the opinions show that while IHEs are aware of their constitutional protections of due process and immunity, a lack of alignment existed between IHEs and the courts as to whether IHEs were entitled to constitutional protections as part of their Title IX response processes. This study contributes to the dialogue regarding federal Title IX policy and how IHEs are seeking to evaluate and, as needed, improve institutional Title IX policies, procedures, and responses to student incidents of sexual misconduct.