If you are a college student in Rhode Island and have been accused of violating your school's code of conduct, you might find that the investigation and hearing process is less than fair. Especially if you have been accused of sexual misconduct in violation of Title IX, it can feel like the cards are being stacked against you and that no one cares about your side of the story.
In many cases, the rights of the accused are trampled in Title IX investigations. Filing a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is one way to make your school take your rights seriously. A Title IX and OCR complaint lawyer can help to ensure the OCR comes to the rescue.
How the Office for Civil Rights Works
The Office for Civil Rights is a branch of the U.S. Department of Education. As a federal agency, the OCR is responsible for enforcing a handful of federal laws that protect the rights of students in higher education, including their rights to due process.
However, the OCR cannot oversee all of the cases that are pending in schools in Rhode Island, let alone the rests of the U.S. Students who think their rights have been violated, therefore, need to file a complaint with the OCR within 180 days of the violation to have the agency take a look at their case.
The OCR's Investigation
If the OCR is convinced that your case is worth scrutinizing, it will send agents to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations in your complaint. These agents will review documents and interview witnesses and important people in your case to determine if your rights were violated or any federal laws were broken.
Once the OCR investigation is complete, a letter of findings will be sent to you and to your school. This will outline whether there was a violation of your rights or not and will encourage mediation if there was. If your school refuses to come to mediation, administrative penalties can strip the school of its federal funding.
Importantly, if your school retaliates against you for filing a complaint with the OCR at any point during the agency's investigation, you can file another complaint with the OCR to conduct another investigation into the retaliation.
Settling an OCR Case
Most OCR investigations do not get very far, though. Once a college realizes that they are being watched by a federal agency to ensure they do not break any laws, the school will want to settle the case. The OCR offers a settlement process – Facilitated Resolution Between the Parties – but does not enforce or officially agree with any settlement it creates. However, if your school signs a settlement agreement and then violates it, this violation can be the basis for another OCR complaint.
Joseph D. Lento: Rhode Island's Title IX and OCR Complaint Lawyer
Joseph D. Lento is a student discipline defense lawyer who helps students in Rhode Island who are facing Title IX charges and want to file an OCR complaint. Contact him online orby phone at 888-535-3686 for the help you need.
Rhode Island colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student file a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Brown University
- Bryant University
- Community College of Rhode Island
- Johnson & Wales University – Providence
- Naval War College (exempt from Title IX and the Clery Act)
- New England Institute of Technology
- Providence College
- Rhode Island College
- Rhode Island School of Design
- Roger Williams University
- Salve Regina University
- University of Rhode Island
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 Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.