BATON ROUGE, La. — As the state’s flagship university deals with the continued controversy over how school administrators handled claims of sexual misconduct and alleged Title IX violations, Governor John Bel Edwards said change must happen.
“I support mandatory reporting for Title IX violations related to sexual assault and sexual harassment by higher education mandatory reporters,” said Edwards.
That is now part of his legislative agenda when lawmakers return to the capitol Monday. Thursday, a senate committee was hoping to hear testimony from at least ten school leaders, but none of them showed up. LSU’s vice president of legal affairs, Winston DeCuir, told the committee he advised them not to because of a $50 million lawsuit filed Wednesday against the university.
“This is a serious lawsuit. A civil RICO suit combined with allegations of discrimination and Title IX retaliation is going to be a messy affair,” said DeCuir.
Much of the controversy started after the Husch Blackwell Title IX Review Report was made public last month. That report details failures of how LSU handled claims of sexual misconduct. A big part of it centers on when Les Miles was the head football coach. Because of the report, only two current employees in the athletics department were suspended. Governor Edwards said based on that report, the suspensions were reasonable and doesn’t see a need for any current employee to be fired.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt the most egregious behavior was by those who are no longer at LSU and haven’t been in some years,” said Edwards.
Edwards said firings should have happened but should have happened years ago. In moving forward, at least three bills are making their way through the legislature.
Those bills are aimed at Title IX procedures and reporting for higher education.
“That’s where we can make real change,” said Rep. Aimee Freeman.
Freeman is the author of H.B. 409 which is one of those three bills.
“Three bills give me hope that we’re going to come up with some really good, stringent laws that can help students,” said Freeman.
Lawmakers and the governor hope changes will mean better protections on campus and holding school leaders more accountable.
“The days of protecting an institution are gone. There is no protecting an institution of higher education at the expense of those you’re supposed to be educating,” said Edwards.