Title IX Proposals Would Fix ‘Pass The Trash’ Loophole?

New Title IX amendments might fix the pass the trash loophole that allows teachers accused of sex crimes to simply move to another school.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

National Teacher Unions Have Lost 200,000 Members

pass the trash

The Biden Administration is seeking to expand Title IX to further protect LGBTQ+ students and women. Some are speculating that if approved the new Title IX measures would finally end loopholes like the “pass the trash” epidemic where teachers accused of sexual assault quit before they are investigated and are able to find new teaching jobs. If this is so it would save a lot of children from being harmed, as 1 in 10 students are sexually abused by teachers or other school staff members.

The claim that the pass the trash loophole would be finally ended comes from the sections which change how schools handle sexual assault or sexual discrimination allegations. For years sexual abuse allegations were often left unpursued if the teacher involved resigned. This has left many in danger as the accused could then move away, apply for another teaching job, and be in contact with students in another area. 

This has been compared to how the Catholic church handled sexual abuse cases against priests. Many priests were able to leave their perish unpunished by simply being moved to another. This pass the trash loophole has been a serious point of contention between Catholics and their faith. Thankfully in 2021, The Pope specifically expanded church laws to target priests who sexually abuse parishioners and ensure they are removed and prosecuted. 

It was because the churches themselves answered to the Vatican and the pope, not local law enforcement, around the world that the pass the trash loophole allowed further abuses to be committed for so long. Title IX by contrast, is an American civil rights law that applies to everyone in the United States. Any student who has been harassed or sexually abused has the right to go to the police instead or school officials. Unfortunately, schools, for some time, have acted as if they are their own courts. Like the Catholic church, they have held their own investigations, trials, and offered their own rulings which led to cover-ups in order to avoid scandal. 

If the new Title IX proposals included a clause which stated that all sexual harassement and sexual abuse investigations should be made public, this would end the loophole. No more passing the trash could occur because it would be public record. Unfortunately there is not one mention of expressly addressing that issue within the proposed changes, and may interfere with due process being that all Americans are considered “innocent until proven guilty.”

What is known is that Title IX would be completely reworded and that the language allowing pass the trash loopholes, removed. Despite this, the new wording still allows schools to host their own investigations and settle cases informally (quietly without a trial) if the parties involved so desire. Students who have been abused may not wish to be as outspoken as others. Plenty of victims settle because trials are sometimes traumatic experiences. Support for victims is heightened, and that’s a start, but it cannot prevent quiet settlements that end each case without charges or criminal convictions. 

pass the trash

The pass the trash loophole is perpetuated by many decisions. When schools choose to focus on their reputation instead of aiding the victim, they work to keep allegations and investigations quiet. When teachers wish to avoid scandal, they often quit and seek employment elsewhere. When abuse victims are traumatized and scared, they sometimes take a settlement to finally end the pain of having to relive their abuse through a trial. Until Title IX changes mandate that all sexual harassement and sexual abuse investigations are made public, these responses are unlikely to change.