Sexual misconduct is one of the most severe allegations a student can face. In the prevailing political and cultural climate, if a school doesn't respond quickly or fails to punish violations adequately, the institution is in jeopardy of losing its federal funding under the stringent regulations of Title IX. Therefore, if you are accused of Title IX misconduct in Arizona or elsewhere, it's imperative that you take the situation seriously.
Even though the investigative and hearing processes are burdensome on students, they do have the opportunity to choose an advisor to assist them. That advisor can be—and should be—an attorney. Only a Title IX attorney has the background and knowledge to help you through the process and protect your reputation.
How Does Title IX Work?
Title IX is a federal law passed in 1972 that prevents sex and gender-based discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal funding. Although the law has been revised in the decades since, it remains the primary method by which colleges, universities, and elementary and secondary schools handle sexual misconduct allegations.
Additionally, Title IX covers a wide range of training programs and workshops. For example, Title IX covers diverse activities such as teacher workshops managed by state parks receiving funding from the Department of the Interior, local disaster relief courses funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, boater safety courses sponsored by county parks and recreation departments receiving funds from the U.S. Coast Guard, and others.
The mechanics of the law are precarious, not least due to the law's frequent revision. In 2021, the Biden Administration announced the reversal of many Trump Administration enforcement guidelines, adding new language stating, "all students should be guaranteed an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, including discrimination in the form of sexual harassment."
Policies requiring schools to hold live hearings, cross-examination, formal reporting channels, and others providing equal protection to both parties under Trump-era guidance are set to be rolled back. Moreover, the Biden Administration's new Title IX guidelines protect transgender and gender-nonconforming students from discrimination.
How Does the Process Work?
- Under current Title IX law, postsecondary institutions can have mandatory reporting for all employees or designate only some to be confidential resources. All employees at K-12 schools are required to report allegations. Once a school's Title IX Coordinator is informed, the institution then has "actual knowledge" of the incident, and subsequent response obligations commence.
- Schools must respond to allegations in a "deliberately indifferent" timeframe. The Title IX Coordinator must promptly and confidentially contact the alleged victim (complainant) to discuss the allegations. Even if the school dismisses them, the administration may still address them in any manner the school deems appropriate under its code of conduct.
- The Title IX Coordinator then notifies the accused (respondent) of the allegation and apprises them of their rights, including the right to be presumed "not responsible" and their right to choose an advisor.
- The Title IX Coordinator selects an Investigator who interviews both the complainant and respondent, collects evidence, and contacts witnesses. Schools cannot restrict the parties from gathering evidence or discussing allegations. All evidence collected by the Investigator must be sent to both parties with at least ten days to review and respond to the evidence.
- During the hearing phase, a postsecondary institution is required to provide a live hearing (optional in K-12). The Decision-Maker(s) must permit each party's advisor to cross-examine the other party and witnesses "directly, orally, and in real-time" with the advisor. If a party doesn't have an advisor present, the school must provide, without fee or charge, an advisor of the school's choice. If a party or witness doesn't submit to cross-examination, the Decision-maker(s) must not rely on any statement in reaching a conclusion regarding responsibility.
- The Decision-Maker(s) ultimately bases their decision on the "preponderance of evidence" or "clear and convincing evidence" standard, and each school will decide which standard they will use. Far less strict than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard, "preponderance of evidence" requires the Decision-Maker(s) to be just over 50 percent convinced the respondent committed a violation to find them responsible for the charges.
- Finally, both parties have the opportunity to appeal the findings. The time limit on filing an appeal is vague and detailed only has "reasonably prompt," which may be as little as ten days, and can only be filed under these few circumstances:
- Discovery of new evidence
- Procedural irregularities
- Title IX personnel conflict of interest/bias
High Stakes Consequences
Punishments levied under Title IX "need not be non-disciplinary or non-punitive and need not avoid burdening the respondent." Therefore, sanctions commonly go far beyond written warnings, restitution, and mandated counseling. The reality is that suspension is typically the minimum penalty. Students found responsible for Title IX violations are more commonly expelled from the school.
Expulsion can be a traumatic ordeal in itself, but it may become even more burdensome. For instance, a student expelled from one of Arizona's public universities is permanently banned from their grounds or any university-sponsored activity and is ineligible for admission, enrollment, re-enrollment, or readmission unless they are evaluated and approved by the Vice President for Student Affairs at the specific university.
Furthermore, the school may notate the nature of the offense in the student's transcript, making it even tougher to gain admission at an Arizona school or elsewhere, effectively ending the student's academic career.
Even if the Title IX violation doesn't lead to expulsion, it may interfere with financial aid, becoming less competitive for graduate school, and being unable to get certain jobs and professional licenses.
How Can an Attorney Help You?
Title IX is intimidating. Your entire future is at risk, and you have to fight under rules that aren't just complicated but also constantly changing.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento built his career on Title IX cases. He has defended hundreds of students in Arizona and across the United States from various sexual misconduct charges. He spends every day talking to faculty and administrators, fighting for his clients' rights, and negotiating fair settlements.
If you or your child has been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct in Arizona, you need to act immediately. The school is well on its way to preparing its case, and you should be too. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or through its online form.
Arizona colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student's Title IX advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- American Indian College of the Assemblies of God, Inc.
- Argosy University Phoenix
- Argosy University Phoenix Online Division
- Arizona Christian University
- Arizona College of Allied Health
- Arizona State University
- Arizona Western College
- Brown Mackie College Phoenix
- Brown Mackie College Tucson
- Central Arizona College
- Chamberlain College of Nursing Arizona
- Chandler/Gilbert Community College
- Cochise College
- Coconino Community College
- College America Flagstaff
- CollegeAmerica Phoenix
- Collins College
- DeVry University Arizona
- Dine College
- Eastern Arizona College
- Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Prescott
- Estrella Mountain Community College
- Everest College Phoenix
- Everest College Phoenix
- Fortis College Phoenix
- GateWay Community College
- Glendale Community College
- Golf Academy of America Chandler
- Grand Canyon University
- International Baptist College
- ITT Technical Institute Phoenix
- ITT Technical Institute Phoenix West
- ITT Technical Institute Tempe
- ITT Technical Institute Tucson
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Scottsdale
- Mesa Community College
- Mohave Community College
- National Paralegal College
- Northcentral University Prescott
- Northern Arizona University
- Northland Pioneer College
- Paradise Valley Community College
- Phoenix College
- Pima Community College
- Prescott College
- Rio Salado College
- Sanford Brown College Phoenix
- Scottsdale Community College
- South Mountain Community College
- Southwest University of Visual Arts Tucson
- The Art Institute of Phoenix
- The Art Institute of Tucson
- Tohono O'Odham Community College
- University of Advancing Technology
- University of Arizona
- University of Phoenix Online Campus
- University of Phoenix Phoenix Hohokam Campus
- University of Phoenix Southern Arizona Campus
- Western International University
- Yavapai College
Title IX violations and Title IX charges can change an accused student's life if not defended against properly and as early as possible during the disciplinary process, and Joseph D. Lento has nearly a decade of experience passionately fighting for the future of his clients at universities and colleges throughout the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead, prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is admitted as an attorney pro hac vice in state and federal court if needed when representing clients nationwide, and serves as a Title IX advisor and educational consultant to students facing disciplinary cases in Arizona and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.