Federal law Title IX bans gender-based discrimination in federally funded colleges and universities. Sexual misconduct in any of its forms - sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, etc. - is considered gender discrimination, by law. In compliance with Title IX, higher education institutions must adjudicate all alleged instances of sexual misconduct committed by and/or against students.
Schools use the Title IX resolution process to determine if a violation (gender discrimination) has been committed. One of the most important phases of this process is the investigative period. During this period, students will undoubtedly need the help of an outside party, known as an advisor, to help guide them through this process.
The Role of an Advisor
People who bring allegations (complainants) and those who respond to said allegations (respondents) have the right to choose anyone they would like to serve as their advisor. This right is extended because the government and schools understand that students may need navigating through the complex and emotional process. Choosing the right person to be your advisor makes all the difference in achieving a favorable case outcome.
The Benefits of Choosing an Attorney as Your Title IX Advisor
It is in the best interest of respondents to choose an attorney to serve as their advisor. An experienced attorney is invaluable in this process, as they are familiar with the process and can protect your rights.
The Title IX Process
Here's a general overview of the Title IX process in federally funded Vermont institutions:
- A complaint is filed: Higher education institutions strongly encourage all members of the community to report any rumored, witnessed, or experienced instances of alleged sexual misconduct. Policy makes it so virtually anyone can file a complaint, from an alleged victim to spectators and school staff.
- Interim measures: When a school is notified of a complaint, its primary concern will be to protect the complainant and the rest of the campus community. If deemed appropriate, measures like a no-contact order, housing accommodations, schedule changes, and more will be imposed to limit the interactions between a respondent and complainant.
- The investigation: A formal investigation will be conducted by the school. During this period, the complainant, the respondent, witnesses, and other relevant parties will be thoroughly interviewed for the purposes of collecting information, and a finding will be comprised. At some schools, the Title IX resolution process ends here.
- The hearing: In schools where Title IX charges are resolved via hearing, it will be the final opportunity for both sides to share their account of events. Depending on the school, a panel comprised of students and staff will hear statements, testimony, and a cross-examination (with appropriate boundaries for alleged victims). When deliberating, the panel will take these factors into consideration and come up with a determination.
- Sanctions: If an investigator or hearing panel determines a respondent is “responsible” for violating Title IX, they will be subject to sanctioning. The severity of the sanction depends on the nature of the misconduct. Sanctions like treatments, an intervention program, the removal of scholarships, suspension, or expulsion have been imposed upon respondents found responsible for violating Title IX.
- Appeals: An appeal is a request for schools to reconsider its decision due to an error made at some point during the process. If any party is dissatisfied with the outcome of an investigation, a hearing determination, or a recommended sanction, he or she may file an appeal - a whole process in and of itself.
Vermont Title IX Advisor
If you attend a Vermont college or university and are facing sexual misconduct allegations, it is crucial you contact an attorney. For students who haven't been through this process before, it can be confusing and scary. Preparation is the key to favorable results. Skilled legal professional Joseph D. Lento has extensive experience preparing respondents for an investigation and the entire Title IX process. Contact him today for help.
Vermont colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student's Title IX advisor during investigations (in addition to hearings and appeals) include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Bennington College
- Castleton State College
- Champlain College
- College of St Joseph
- Community College of Vermont
- Goddard College
- Green Mountain College
- Johnson State College
- Landmark College
- Lyndon State College
- Marlboro College
- Middlebury College
- Norwich University
- Saint Michael's College
- Southern Vermont College
- Sterling College
- University of Vermont
- Vermont Technical College
It is critical to make certain the Title IX investigation at your college or university is handled properly and that the accused student's or employee's interests are protected from as early as possible during the sexual misconduct investigative process. One major reason is because even at schools where a finding of responsibility for sexual misconduct charges is made at a hearing, the investigation will set the stage for what the hearing panel is provided prior to a hearing (and what the hearing panel will in large part rely on at a hearing), and at schools where the finding of responsibility is made solely through the investigative process, what takes place during the investigation itself will determine whether the accused is found responsible or not responsible for Title IX charges.
Unfortunately, some students, families, and college employees make the mistake of not taking the necessary precautions as soon as possible when accused of sexual misconduct. Some people will mistakenly believe that if they "just explain what happened," their school will be fair and impartial and will arrive at the truth. In a perfect world this may be the case, but in a perfect world, sexual misconduct and Title IX charges would not exist.
Fighting passionately for the future of his clients at universities and colleges throughout the nation for a decade, Joseph D. Lento knows how important it is to mount the strongest defense because he understands that an accused's academic and professional future is on the line. 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 sexual misconduct investigations and disciplinary cases in Vermont and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.