Title IX was implemented in 1972 by the U.S. Department of Education to prevent sexually-based discrimination in all academic institutions. This civil rights amendment sought to ensure that no individual is precluded from participating in educational programs, obstructed from accessing benefits, or otherwise discriminated against based on their sex. All schools are required to abide by the provisions to remain eligible for key federal education funding, which has been an effective means of motivating institutions to comply.
Title IX applies to all educational institutions and prohibits acts of sexual assault, gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and more. College is a critical period where students are often dedicating substantial time and financial resources to pursue higher education and improve their future. Student respondents are those alleged to have committed acts of sexual misconduct who may be subject to potentially harsh ramifications if the violation is proven and they are suspended or expelled from the institution.
Aside from the immediate consequences of being separated from their school, the sanctions imposed also create a host of potential collateral consequences. One example is that students who are sanctioned for Title IX violations have notations documenting the misconduct added to their academic records. This evidence of prior disciplinary action may hinder admission into other schools or graduate programs, hamper eligibility for professional licenses, limit employment opportunities, and more. When a student is notified that they are the subject of a Title IX disciplinary investigation, they should promptly contact an attorney that will provide advisory representation and seek to prevent or minimize adverse consequences and protect your future.
Potential Collateral Consequences for Students Accused of Title IX Violations
At the beginning of the Title IX disciplinary process, the administration may implement interim measures that are typically for the safety of the alleged victim (complainant). “No-contact” orders are common interim measures that prohibit any further communication between the parties. An order that prohibits contact is similar to a restraining or protection order that is common in criminal cases, such as those involving domestic violence. The provisions in the order may restrict a student respondent from being in proximity to the complainant.
The physical restrictions associated with a no-contact order could potentially prevent the respondent from continuing in campus student organizations, social membership in a fraternity or sorority, or continuing in athletic participation. After the Title IX disciplinary process, the administration may impose a suspension or dismissal from the school, which is immediately effective. The student may potentially lose all academic credit for the current semester in addition to money already paid for tuition, food, and housing. Students that are employed by the university at the time the sanctions are imposed are likely no longer eligible for employment.
Other ramifications may include losing merit scholarships, athletic scholarships, or financial aid eligibility. Most schools will add notations to the student's academic record that remain for several years, or indefinitely in some cases. Moving forward, an individual seeking a second chance to continue their education at another school may struggle to successfully be admitted based on their past disciplinary record.
The student may also encounter difficulties in any other application processes that require self-disclosure of prior disciplinary infractions. Applications for entry to some graduate school programs such as law school or medical school may require that the student provide written authorization to waive privacy rights that prevent disclosure. An applicant that refuses to grant access to student records or transcripts for these educational programs, an internship, or an employment opportunity is less likely to be admitted or hired.
Understanding Student Transcript Documentation and Disclosure
Most academic institutions today have adopted policies that reflect the recommendations of the Association for Student Conduct Administration and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. These organizations have expressed support for disciplinary sanctions such as suspension or dismissal to be documented on student transcripts. This practice is intended to protect colleges and universities when they receive transfer applications and need to determine whether to admit these students.
Confidentiality of Student Records
Academic institutions, students subject to disciplinary actions, advocates of privacy rights, and others commonly have opposing views regarding disclosure of potentially adverse information. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal initiative that supports maintaining the privacy of student records. In most cases, FERPA prohibits disclosure of a student's educational record without their consent; however, it makes exceptions for notations related to disciplinary matters at post-secondary institutions under certain circumstances.
Importance of Having an Experienced Legal Adviser for Allegations of Sexual Misconduct
Higher education today is a highly competitive environment and most institutional leaders are increasingly vigilant in their efforts to maintain an impeccable image. Many college and university administrators also are cognizant of potential liability that exists if they fail to address serious allegations such as sexual assault, and tend to view Title IX violations as a risk management concern. Meanwhile, despite being well-intended, public, political and media sentiment encourages taking all measures to prevent, deter, and swiftly punish perpetrators of sexually-related misconduct. Academic institutions may be inclined to approach these investigations hastily, without properly acknowledging the rights of the accused and imposing disproportionately punitive sanctions.
Having a seasoned attorney function in an advisory role for Title IX matters is tremendously beneficial. He or she may uncover evidence that strongly supports your defense. You are more likely to be well-prepared if subject to a disciplinary hearing; for example, able to deliver effective opening or closing statements and confidently respond to questions that are posed. Also, your attorney may attempt to negotiate with the administration in efforts to reach an amenable solution.
Effective Representation for Students in Title IX Disciplinary Actions
College and university students may face harsh sanctions and penalties resulting from allegations of misconduct that violate Title IX provisions. Having proper advisory assistance in these situations may have a positive impact on your future. Attorney Joseph D. Lento understands the disciplinary process and will protect your best interests and rights to due process. Contact the Lento Law Firm today for a consultation at (888) 535-3686.