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Vacancies remain inside LSU's Title IX office

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BATON ROUGE - Nearly eight months after the Husch Blackwell report detailed consistent Title IX failures at LSU, the office tasked with handling and investigating those cases still has unfilled positions.

Officials expect the vacant jobs to be filled by the end of the year.

Staffing the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX adequately was the first of 18 recommendations laid out in the report, released in March.

Investigators determined LSU's 'Title IX office is not appropriately staffed and this needs to be corrected promptly,' labeling it the 'most important' of the 18 recommendations.

While some hires still need to be made, other positions have been filled since the report's release, including Title IX Coordinator Joshua Jones.

"We have two more positions to complete in our office in order to check this [recommendation] off," Dr. Jane Cassidy, Interim Vice President of Civil Rights & Title IX, told the university's Board of Supervisors Thursday.

The first of those two positions expected to be filled is Deputy Title IX Coordinator. Interviews for the job are already underway, and Cassidy says a hire should start shortly after Thanksgiving.

"In order to hire a second in command, you really need to know who the first in command is going to be," Cassidy said. "I'll be honest, it took us a little bit longer than we anticipated to hire a Title IX coordinator."

Cassidy said the delay in filling the position Jones took about two months ago was due to trying to find a candidate with plenty of expertise to handle the avalanche of improvements they would be tasked with making quickly.

"We needed to hire somebody away from another university who had a lot of experience because we had a lot to work on and we are in the public eye," Cassidy said. "We couldn't hire somebody who was going to learn on the job."

The other vacant role is another Civil Rights and Title IX Investigator. The first round of interviews is scheduled to begin next week, with someone anticipated to be on the job by mid-December.

As Cassidy presented LSU's Power-Based Violence Biannual Report Thursday, at least one supervisor questioned why a Memorandum of Understanding, to allow for the sharing of information in sexual crimes cases, between LSU and local law enforcement agencies had yet to be signed, as required by Louisiana law.

While Husch Blackwell found no MOU had ever been signed between the university and the LSU Police Department, a draft agreement has been circulating between area entities in the months since the report was released.

Supervisor Jay Blossman, Jr. said LSU needs to immediately.

"We need to make it priority number one to get that signed," Blossman said. "I don't know why it takes so long to go all the way to Jan. 1."

State law requires the MOU to be signed by Jan. 1.

Much like Husch Blackwell did, an outside firm is once again auditing LSU's Title IX infrastructure.

Baker Tilly, an accounting and consulting firm, is expected to have a report on the university's progress implementing Husch Blackwell's recommendations by the end of the year.

"The audit company has asked for everything from job descriptions of people, organization charts," Cassidy said. "They've asked for all of our policies. They're going to look at some of our cases. I think part of what they're trying to determine is ... are we on track to meet the expectation of the Husch Blackwell report? In other words, have we been doing our job?"

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