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Moody Students, Alumni Say the School Failed to Act on Sexual Abuse Disclosure

Moody Provost Dwight Perry then addressed the students and gave an outline for the actions the school is planning to take.

Perry said Moody will engage an independent, third party firm with specific Title IX expertise to conduct a review of the Title IX office and processes as well as investigate the allegations made with the online petition. The school will be interviewing potential firms this week and will share the name of the firm when they choose one.

Like Jobe, Perry also stressed that while the investigative firm will be looking into the actions of the school regarding Title IX complaints, it doesn’t mean that Arens and Puente have done anything wrong. On the other hand, though, Perry said “we believe the victim unless otherwise proved false.” Additionally, Arens has been asked to “step away from implementation of any application of discipline as it relates to student conduct code” for the time being. Puente also has been asked to step down from her part-time role of Title IX coordinator “pending the conclusion of the investigation.”

Perry did commit to facilitating student input during the interview process for the candidate to replace Arens as dean of students. The school will also be announcing an interim Title IX coordinator by this time next week, Perry said. Finally, the school will look into restructuring the Title IX office in a way that provides more support than it currently has.

What Is Title IX?

Title IX is a civil rights law that states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Thanks to decisions made by the Supreme Court, claims of sexual abuse and harassment fall under Title IX’s umbrella. As KnowYourIX.org explains, “Under Title IX, schools are legally required to respond and remedy hostile educational environments and failure to do so is a violation that means a school could risk losing its federal funding.”

Under the law, schools receiving federal funding must have a Title IX coordinator, to whom students can report incidences of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual violence. Additionally, the law as it is interpreted indicates that students who raise a complaint should not be pressured into using informal mechanisms, like mediation, to find a resolution. 

In their accounts, some of the students who shared their experiences with Moody’s Title IX office imply that they were pressured into informal mechanisms that ultimately left them experiencing more harm.

Moody, like a lot of other private schools, receives federal money in the form of federal financial aid its students apply for. A school can be denied federal funding if they are found to be in violation of Title IX requirements.

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Megan Briggs is a writer and editor for churchleaders.com. Her experience in ministry, an extensive amount of which was garnered overseas, gives her a unique perspective on the global church. She has the longsuffering and altruistic nature of foreign friends and missionaries to humbly thank for this experience. Megan is passionate about seeking and proclaiming the truth. When she’s not writing, Megan likes to explore God’s magnificent creation.