Title IX is a federal civil rights law that outright condemns and prohibits discriminatory actions on the premise of gender in educational institutions. Any school that receives some portion of financial assistance from the federal government is obligated to comply with Title IX. Being in compliance with this law entails school to investigate and resolve reports gender-based misconduct that ensues in the school community.
In accordance with Title IX, sexual misconduct falls under gender-based discrimination, and schools are required handle these cases in a way that is generally distinctive from all other violations of school policy. The Department of Education puts pressure on schools to handle these cases up to their standards. Any reports of an institution doing otherwise can lead to the loss of federal funding - a nightmare for most higher education institutions. Therefore, schools have more incentive to cater more to accusers, oftentimes to the point of disadvantaging the accused in what's supposed to be a fair and impartial process.
This is why it's important that you understand your school's processes, and are informed of the things you can do to maximize the likelihood of a favorable outcome. After all, being found responsible for a violation as damaging as sexual misconduct can jeopardize the professional and educational goals that you've set and have already worked hard to reach. For the purposes of this article, we will provide a brief overview of Goucher College's Title IX Policy.
Title IX Process
Filing a complaint
During the Title IX process, there will be certain terms used to characterize all the parties involved in a complaint. An individual who claims they have experienced the misconduct detailed in a report is referred to as a “complainant,” while the individual who has been accused of exhibiting such behavior is known as a “respondent.” Once a school receives word of these allegations, the Title IX process is supposed to immediately be initiated with a preliminary investigation.
The school's Title IX coordinator will launch a preliminary investigation that will determine whether or not the processes will proceed. Factors to be considered include whether there have been similar complaints against the same respondent, disciplinary history of a respondent, the presence of weapons or violence, the age of a complainant etc. If a coordinator feels it is appropriate to continue the process, a formal investigation will be conducted.
A formal investigation entails interviews with a complainant, respondent and witnesses who may known any information that is relevant to a case. An investigator appointed to take on this task will be responsible for assessing this information and coming up with a finding and a recommended sanction (if applicable) for a case.
The investigator's report will be looked over by two trained and appointed staff members. If appropriate, the investigator's will meet with each party and discuss any questions, concerns, or disagreements they may have with a finding. Once all the information is clarified, the investigators will deliberate and deliver a final determination.
If a respondent is dissatisfied with the decisions made by a school, he or she has the option to appeal. However, an appeal will only be granted if it is based on good reason, or reasonable grounds.These grounds include:
- New information that could have substantially affected a determination and/or sanction was unavailable at the time of a hearing
- The sanctions imposed are disproportionate to the severity of the violation
- There is evidence of investigators exhibiting bias or being unfair
- School authorities failed to follow the appropriate procedures
An appeal must be submitted within 10 calendar days of the date of the decision.
Title IX Advisor
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 Maryland and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Joseph D. Lento can help.