Graduating from high school and getting into college is a dream come true for most students. You have worked so hard to guarantee your place on campus and in your major of choice, but if you are accused of sexual misconduct or violating Title IX at Kansas State University, it may feel like that dream is going to disappear. If you've been accused of sexual misconduct, it can feel devastating. But don't stress. There are several steps you can take to help ensure the best possible outcome, including working with an experienced attorney-advisor. Attorney-advisors Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have years of experience helping hundreds of students across the country protect themselves against sexual misconduct allegations. You don't have to navigate these deep waters alone; the Lento Law Firm can help.
What is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal regulation that creates a specific standard that all federally funded colleges and universities must uphold when managing sexual discrimination and sexual violence on their campus. These standards include:
- Clear and immediate procedures for sexual misconduct allegations
- Designated personnel to handle instances of sexual violence
- In Title IX hearings, the standard of evidence should be “more likely than not” or “preponderance of evidence”
- Both parties involved should have access to the same procedures – advisors, appeals, and presentation of the evidence
- Retaliation protection
Kansas State University prohibits discrimination and sexual misconduct, which they define as sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, retaliation, or stalking, with the goal to keep faculty, staff, and students safe, and to uphold their civil and constitutional rights.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at Kansas State University?
Every person is encouraged to make a report of sexual misconduct they witness or hear about on campus. This complaint is made to the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) or to the head of the department where the conduct occurred. If the university believes the complaint falls within the scope of Title IX, they will refer it to the Title IX Coordinator. The OIE or Title IX Coordinator will review the complaints and determine if they have jurisdiction to investigate the allegations. If they do, they will notify the complainant and the accused student of an administrative review.
The Administrative Review Team will interview the complainant and gather sufficient evidence to determine how to proceed. If they believe there is no jurisdiction over the alleged conduct, they will dismiss the matter. This dismissal is final and not subject to review unless it covers a Title IX Sexual Harassment allegation. These complainants are given the opportunity to appeal.
If the Administrative Review Team determines there might be a violation of university policy, they will obtain a formal complaint and conduct a fair and impartial investigation. During this investigation, the Administrative Review Team will meet with both parties, discuss the complaint, explain the next steps, and make the respondent aware that they have an opportunity to respond to the accusation, but it must be done within ten days. Additionally, the team will confer with anyone with knowledge of the incident, and for Title IX matters, the university will notify both students that they are allowed to work with an advisor who will help advocate on their behalf.
Once the Administrative Review Team has heard both sides, including their relevant evidence and witnesses, they will make a determination of whether the accused student did, in fact, commit the act of misconduct and what sanctions should be imposed. This decision must be made within 90 calendar days, and sanctions will range from on-campus probation or loss of privileges to suspension and expulsion.
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision
Whether the student has been accused of a Title IX Violation or any other act of sexual misconduct, they have the right to appeal the decision.
For Title IX determinations, the party may appeal on one of three grounds:
- There was a procedural irregularity that affected the outcome
- There is new evidence now that was not reasonably available before that might have affected the outcome
- The Title IX Coordinator, members of the Administrative Review Team, and/or the Hearing Officer had a conflict of interest or bias that affected the outcome
The non-appealing party has ten days to reply to this appeal in writing, and within 30 days of receiving that submission, the Appeal Administrator will issue a written decision to the parties and their advisors. This decision is final and cannot be appealed further.
For other sexual misconduct determinations, the parties may appeal within ten days. The appeal must include the ground the appeal was based on. The Deciding Administrator cannot conduct a new investigation but must review the written information presented in the Administrative Review Team's file. They will decide if the determination was clearly erroneous or a harmless error. Again, these determinations are final and not subject to further review.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Being suspected of sexual misconduct, or a Title IX violation, by your university, and found not responsible can still have disastrous effects on your future. For instance, it may harm your reputation, helping students and teachers form biases long before you've met, making these accusations hard to recover from. For students who are found responsible, the effects will be even more detrimental. You may be removed from labs or classes you are taking with the victim or complainant, altering your schedule and independence on campus. Tougher sanctions, including suspension and expulsion, will tarnish your transcripts for years to come and force you to recount the incident on any graduate application you pursue. This is why working with an attorney-advisor from the moment you learn of these accusations is so important. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm aim to create a strategic defense that will avoid or mitigate these potential negative consequences. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.