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MSU Board of Trustees releases audit of Title IX certification process

Michigan State University
Posted at 1:19 PM, Sep 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-30 14:49:31-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — On Friday, the Michigan State University Board of Trustees released an audit conducted earlier this month on the Title IX certification process.

This audit was conducted because of concerns that MSU President Samuel Stanley and the board may not have complied with the state-mandated Title IX certification process last year.

"I have faithfully complied with the state of Michigan certification process the last two years and reviewed all of the required Title IX reports," Stanley said in a Faculty Senate meeting on Sept. 13. "Contrary to information previously provided to me, in June of this year, I was notified that some of our board members may not have actually complied with their part of the state requirement. We asked for an internal audit and review on the situation, which showed that we could improve the processes by which the reviews were taking place."

The audit identified "weaknesses related to the current workflow" of the review process and proposed recommendations to address the findings.

Some of the findings were that "a comprehensive process workflow policy to ensure consistency over time was not in place" and that emails had numerous attachments without clear instructions of how the attachments need to be reviewed.

Some other findings include that the messaging between departments were inconsistent and unclear between the board and the Office for Civil Rights.

This was the audit's findings on the 2021 certification process. The names of individuals were redacted.

"For the 2021 state of Michigan certification, REDACTED relied on a verbal confirmation from a Trustee. This was not the standard certification process thus REDACTED circumvented the established process. No written verification was received to confirm the verbal attestation. This Trustee informed us that they are not part of the process workflow and do not receive the case files. REDACTED could have inaccurately used the Cozen (third-party used for OCR Resolution Agreement section 1.D.) review reports, which this Trustee does review, in falsely making this claim. The Cozen semesterly report was sent to the Chair, Board of Trustees, University President, Associate VP OCR and VP for Legal Affairs. Also, another Trustee, that is not part of the ARC Committee, provided a certification for a period of time but clarification is pending regarding what was reviewed."

The audit also mentioned the process for certifying the 2022 Title IX reports, which is due to the Legislature on Oct. 1.

"For the 2022 state of Michigan certification, collection of the completed certification forms to date reveal that some cases (13) may not have been reviewed and/or the certification form may not have been completed," the audit said. "It should be noted that Summer 2022 cases have not been distributed. Also, another Trustee, that is not on the ARC Committee, requested to review cases, determination is pending as to what was reviewed."

The audit gave 12 recommendations to help streamline and simplify the certification and review process for trustees and the Office for Civil Rights. One of those recommendations was the creation of a portal for trustees to access to review the documents and certify that they have been reviewed in accordance with state law.

In a statement released Friday, the board said that "out of an abundance of caution" board members reviewed the 2021 Title IX reports and President Stanley re-certified that MSU satisfied state requirements. Stanley re-submitted that certification to the state Legislature.

Two outside law firms are also investigating the 2021 Title IX certification process, and that investigation is ongoing.

Read the full audit here:

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