If you are a college student in Maryland and have been accused of violating your school's code of conduct, the investigation and hearing process can seem less than adequate. Especially when the accusation you are facing is for sexual misconduct in violation of Title IX, schools tend to ignore an accused student's due process rights in favor of the person behind the allegations.
In some cases, this can be severe enough to violate your rights as a student. By filing a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), you can bring in a federal agency to review your case and hold your school accountable. Having a lawyer help prepare the complaint can be the best way to protect your rights.
What the Office for Civil Rights Does
The OCR is a part of the U.S. Department of Education. As a federal agency responsible for the rights of students in higher education, the OCR enforces a bunch of federal laws that can become implicated when a school investigates an allegation of a disciplinary violation.
If you think that your school has violated your rights guaranteed by one of these laws, you can file a complaint with the OCR within 180 days, urging them to investigate.
The OCR Investigation Process
If the OCR is convinced by your complaint and decides to review your case, it will scrutinize every allegation that you make in your filing to determine if your rights were violated. The agency will look for evidence of a violation by examining pertinent files and interviewing the people who were a part of your case.
Throughout this process, any acts of retaliation or intimidation by your school can serve as the basis for an independent OCR complaint, which can spawn an additional investigation against your Maryland school.
Once the OCR has concluded its investigation, it will submit a letter of findings to you and to your school. If a violation was discovered, the OCR will urge mediation as a way to reach a resolution and can sanction your school if it refuses to come to the discussion table.
Facilitated Resolution Often Settles Cases
However, most OCR investigations do not get very far. Once schools learn that the OCR will conduct an independent investigation, most of them try to settle the dispute as quickly and as quietly as possible. Because it is so common, the OCR has created a process for settling cases that it is reviewing – Facilitated Resolution Between the Parties.
While the OCR does not enforce the agreement that you and your school reach through Facilitated Resolution, you can file another complaint with the agency if your school violates any of the terms or provisions in the agreement you reach.
Joseph D. Lento: An OCR Complaint Lawyer in Maryland
Joseph D. Lento is a student discipline defense lawyer who can help you defend against a Title IX or other disciplinary allegation by filing an effective OCR complaint. Contact him online or by phone at 888-535-3686 if you are serious about protecting your rights and your future.
- Bowie State University
- Capitol Technology University
- Coppin State University
- Frostburg State University
- Goucher College
- Hood College
- Johns Hopkins University
- Loyola University Maryland
- Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)
- Maryland University of Integrative Health
- McDaniel College
- Morgan State University
- Mount St. Mary's University
- Notre Dame of Maryland University
- St. John's College
- St. Mary's College of Maryland
- Salisbury University
- Steven University
- Towson University
- United States Naval Academy (exempt from Title IX and the Clery Act)
- University of Baltimore
- University of Maryland, Baltimore
- University of Maryland, Baltimore County
- University of Maryland, College Park
- University of Maryland, Eastern Shore
- University of Maryland, University College
- University of Maryland, Biotechnology Institute
- University of Maryland, Environmental Science
- USM Hagerstown
- Universities at Shady Grove
- Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (exempt from Title IX and the Clery Act)
Students and parents at times do not realize until after a finding of responsibility and the imposition of adverse sanctions that sexual misconduct allegations at college can result in severe consequences academically and professionally and in the short and long-term. The earlier the necessary steps are taken to address a Title IX case, the better, because these are cases that can be won at the school-level. There are times, however, that the help of the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (DOE-OCR) is needed and Joseph D. Lento has a decade of experience passionately fighting for the futures of his clients at colleges and universities throughout the nation and has helped many clients seek recourse with the DOE-OCR. 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 who helps students in Maryland with DOE-OCR Title IX complaints, 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 Maryland and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.