For many people, college is the best time of their life. Along with the journey to getting your degree, you create memories, build lifelong friendships, and equip the tools to go out and flourish in the workforce. However, nothing can put a damper on the college experience more than acquired allegations of a violation of Title IX. And in cases when these allegations include sexual misconduct, the effects of being accused can be extremely damaging to a student's reputation, standing in the community, and their educational and professional future.
Delaware State University is in compliance with federal law Title IX. Thereby, the school is required to handle all gender-based discrimination that is reported to the institution. In accordance with this law, sexual misconduct is considered gender-based discrimination, which means that all matters of said misconduct will also be handled by the school. If you have been accused of sexual misconduct, it's important you gain a clear and coherent understanding of how your school will approach your case, and the processes you will undergo due to these allegations. Regardless of how you feel about the accusations, you must prepare to defend yourself. For the purposes of this article, we will provide a brief overview of Delaware State University's Title IX Policy.
Title IX Process
Filing a complaint
The school encourages any member of the community, whether they be an employee, a student or a third party to report any knowledge of a violation to a Title IX coordinator, a deputy or a member of the ERP. There is also a reporting form on the school's website. The alleged victim listed in a report is known as a “complainant,” while an alleged offender is considered a “respondent.” Once a school receives notice of this report, the investigation process will immediately begin.
The investigative process
There are several aspects of the investigative process that respondents will go through when it comes to finding a resolution.
Delaware State's Title IX coordinator will assign an ERP panel member to speak with complainants and gather more information about the alleged occurrence. Within two days, the panel member will determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence of a Title IX investigation to eventually launch a full investigation. Typically, the decision to launch a full investigation is based on whether there is evidence of a pattern of the alleged behavior or a perceived threat to the school member and any of its members.
The full investigation
If the findings reveal that there may be a reason to believe that the incident did transpire, then a full investigation will be launched. Investigations are intended to be impartial, thorough and reliable, and should entail interviews with all relevant parties and witnesses.
Upon the completion of an investigation, investigators will meet with the Title IX coordinator to decide if a violation of the school's Title IX policy did in fact occur. This determination is based solely on the preponderance of evidence standard, where schools assess the evidence and come up with a solution on the premise of whether it is more likely than not that a respondent committed an alleged violation. Based on the nature of a case, a coordinator may recommend one of three resolution options:
- Conflict resolution: this option is recommended for less serious, yet appropriate, behaviors. A staff member typically facilitates a dialogue between parties to come to a viable resolution, if possible. The goal is for both parties to agree to a remedy.
- Resolution without a hearing: If a respondent admits that he or she is responsible for this behavior, sanctions will be imposed without a hearing.
- Formal hearing: For any other conflicts that are not suitable for conflict resolution, or does not apply to a resolution without a hearing a formal hearing will be scheduled. At this hearing, both sides will be able to tell their side of the story. Once each side is heard, panel members will deliberate and come up with a final determination.
All requests for an appeal must be submitted in writing to a Title IX coordinator within 3 business days of the final determination. However, mere dissatisfaction with a decision is not enough for an appeal to be granted. Respondents must provide a good reason, or grounds, for an appeal to be granted. Viable appeals are limited to the following:
- A procedural error or omission occurred that impacted the outcome of a hearing,
- There was new evidence that was unknown or unavailable that could have had significantly influenced a finding or sanction, or
- The severity of a sanction is disproportionate to a violation
Title IX Advisor
Federal and state law allows you the freedom to choose anyone to be your advisor. Selecting an attorney to occupy this role is your best bet to maximize the likelihood of a favorable outcome in school proceedings. Skilled legal professional Joseph D. Lento has experience assisting students who have been in your shoes. Contact him today for help.
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 to students facing disciplinary cases in Delaware and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Joseph D. Lento can help