In its April 2014 report, the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault promised to release a sample Memorandum of Understanding to provide guidance to institutions of higher education that wish to increase coordination among campus security, local law enforcement, and other community groups that provide services to individuals who experience sexual violence. The Task Force has now released sample language for institutions of higher education to use in developing memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with local law enforcement agencies as part of an integrated public safety and crime prevention strategy.

The sample outlines areas that schools should consider including in MOUs with law enforcement, such as:

  • Communication and coordination: The MOU addresses information-sharing about crimes that may pose a serious threat to campus communities’ health or safety to facilitate the issuance of Clery Act-required timely warnings and emergency notifications; temporary shared work space arrangements; and prompt notification of crimes involving students.

  • Sexual assault prevention: The MOU recommends collaborative outreach in the development and implementation of sexual assault prevention programs; joint campus listening sessions and meetings; and the implementation of community and problem-oriented policing programs.

  • Response to reported sexual assault: The MOU includes sample language on the coordination and clarification of roles of local law enforcement and campus police when responding to and investigating reports of sexual assault; coordination of support services referrals for complainants; inclusion of local law enforcement representatives on sexual assault response teams; and agreements concerning the preservation of forensic evidence.

  • Training: The MOU also addresses the need for trauma-informed training for first responders and dispatchers, as well as individuals who may be required to investigate reports of sexual assault.

The MOU is not intended to provide a “one-size fits all” approach for schools, and the task force recommends that each school consult legal counsel for consistency with applicable laws, including federal and state confidentiality and privacy laws. The Task Force further encourages consultation with other internal and external partners that are critical in preventing and responding effectively to campus sexual violence. These entities include prosecutors’ offices, other law enforcement agencies, campus-based sexual assault victim service offices, community sexual assault response teams, and hospital and urgent care facilities.

Attorneys in Ballard Spahr’s Higher Education Group regularly advise educational institutions on compliance with Title IX, the Clery Act, Title VI, Section 504, the ADA, and the Age Act. Please contact Olabisi “Bisi” Okubadejo at 410.528.5532 or with any questions. 

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