Title IX is a federal law that prohibits gender discrimination within federally funded higher education institutions. Sexual misconduct is legally regarded as gender discrimination. So, any actions that constitute sexual misconduct are considered a violation of Title IX. Also under this law, colleges and universities must internally adjudge all alleged instances of sexual misconduct committed by and/or against students.
The Title IX process is used by institutions to determine potential violations. The investigation period is an essential part of this process. During this period and throughout the entire process, students will need the assistance of an outside party, known as an advisor, to help them navigate this process.
The Role of an Advisor
People who bring allegations (complainants) and those who respond to said allegations (respondents) are afforded the right to select anyone they feel would best occupy the role of an advisor. This right is extended because both complainants and respondents alike will need assistance in the intricate and oftentimes overwhelming Title IX process. Choosing the right attorney to be in your corner during this process will make all the difference in maintaining an equitable process and achieving a favorable outcome.
The Benefits of Choosing an Attorney as Your Advisor
An attorney's assistance will be very useful in this process. An experienced attorney has likely been through the Title IX process numerous times and understands what it takes to adequately prepare for an investigation or hearing. An attorney can also ensure that a respondent's rights are protected and properly exercised.
The Title IX Process
- A complaint is filed: higher education institutions urge all members of the campus community to report any alleged instances of rumored, witnessed, or experienced sexual misconduct. Virtually anyone could file a report, from an alleged victim to spectators and staff.
- Interim measures: once a complaint is filed, the school's main concern is to keep a complainant and the campus community safe from retaliation. Schools make efforts to keep these parties safe by implementing interim measures. Measures like a no-contact order, housing rearrangements, class schedule changes, and even restriction from certain parts of campus may be imposed solely upon a respondent.
- The investigation: A formal investigation conducted by the school will be carried out by an investigator. Respondents, complainants, witnesses and other relevant parties will be thoroughly interviewed for purposes of collecting information. The Title IX process ends here in some schools. The investigator is responsible for coming up with a determination based on the facts.
- The hearing: In other schools, Title IX charges are mitigated via the hearing process. The hearing process is the final opportunity for both parties to share their account of the incident. A panel comprised of students and staff will listen to witness statements, testimony, and the presentation of evidence. Based on these events, they will deliberate.
- Sanctions: If an investigator or hearing panel determines a respondent is indeed “responsible” for committing sexual misconduct, a large range of sanctions may be imposed in response. Respondents have been subject to sanctions consisting of treatment orders, the removal of scholarships, suspension, and expulsion.
- Appeals: An appeal is a request for a school to reconsider its decision based on an error made at some point during the process. Any party that is dissatisfied with the outcome of an investigation finding or panel decision may file an appeal - which is a process in and of itself.
Mississippi Title IX Advisor
If you attend a Mississippi 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.
Mississippi 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:
- Alcorn State University
- Antonelli College Hattiesburg
- Antonelli College Jackson
- Belhaven University
- Blue Cliff College Gulfport
- Blue Mountain College
- Coahoma Community College
- Copiah Lincoln Community College
- Delta State University
- East Central Community College
- East Mississippi Community College
- Hinds Community College
- Holmes Community College
- Itawamba Community College
- ITT Technical Institute Madison
- Jackson State University
- Jones County Junior College
- Meridian Community College
- Miller Motte Technical College Gulfport
- Millsaps College
- Mississippi College
- Mississippi Delta Community College
- Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
- Mississippi State University
- Mississippi University for Women
- Mississippi Valley State University
- Northeast Mississippi Community College
- Northwest Mississippi Community College
- Pearl River Community College
- Rust College
- Southeastern Baptist College
- Southwest Mississippi Community College
- Tougaloo College
- University of Mississippi
- University of Phoenix Jackson Campus
- University of Southern Mississippi
- Virginia College Biloxi
- William Carey University
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 Mississippi and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.