Student defendants who are found “responsible” for violating Title IX have the right to appeal this decision and/or sanction, especially if they speculate that this decision was unfair or unjustified.
What is an appeal?
An appeal is a written request for a college or university to review a previous decision that it made. They're generally heard by a committee comprised of staff members, students, and instructors. At some schools, they may be heard by the dean of the college or another school authority.
Grounds for an appeal
An appeal must be based on grounds for it to be permitted. These grounds must be strictly related to the procedural methods that ensued during the disciplinary process. This means that new evidence used to support a respondent's claim of innocence is not relevant in this process, and should not be mentioned. A decision to either appeal or not to appeal a determination and/or sanction solely boils down to the committee's ability to evaluate and establish at least one of four specific grounds:
- New evidence is available: new evidence that could have substantially benefited a respondent and had a significant impact on an outcome became available after a hearing.
- Procedural error: an error made within a hearing or at any time throughout the disciplinary process was made that significantly impacted the outcome of a determination and/or sanction.
- There was a violation of due process rights: an appeals committee must assess whether a respondent was not stripped of any of their entitled rights.
- Disproportionate sanction: the sanction was unduly disproportionate to the severity of a violation.
If an appeal is not substantively eligible, the original finding and sanction will stand and the decision will be considered final.
School appeals are often intentionally straightforward, although in appropriate instances, citing case law or other applicable supporting information will be necessary and can allow for a more effective appeal. It's important that you make your points as clear as possible. Here are some tips as to how to successfully do that.
Be involved. Hiring a skilled and reasonable attorney entails many perks, such as having an attorney write an effective appeal for you. However, it doesn't hurt to be involved in the process of drafting your appeal. The more information you can provide to your attorney, the better.
Personalize your appeal. Try to personalize the appeal by adding context, describing your situation, and sprinkling in some information about yourself. In most cases, you won't get to meet the appeal board in person, so it's okay to give them an idea of who you are.
Thoroughly follow deadlines. Each school has its own appeals process. So, each school gives students a limited amount of time after a notice of determination to file an appeal. If students want their appeals permitted, it's important they meet this deadline. If the appeal is not timely, the original finding and sanction will stand.
Student Defense Attorney Helping Clients Nationwide
The decision of a school to suspend or expel you is devastating when you've invested time, money, and effort into your education. If you are a student who believes that your college or university made a decision that was unfair or unjustified, you have every right to appeal that decision.
National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento has advocated for students in this predicament on all sides of the spectrum, from undergraduate students to masters and doctoral students. If you value your academic and professional future and want to put your case in the hands of a skilled and experienced attorney, contact him today.