High School Title IX Advisor - Massachusetts

In 2008, a girl named Noelle started middle school at Brennan Middle School in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Throughout middle and high school, she was harassed, verbally assaulted, and even physically assaulted by a group of students because of her weight and sexual preferences. She and her parents reported the assaults to her school, but they continued. The school offered her schedule changes and occasionally suspended some, but not all, of the culprits, but the harassment continued. Kids continued to bully, assault, and harass Noelle throughout high school. Eventually, Noelle dropped out of school to pursue her GED. She later sued the school.

Noelle's story sounds horrible, doesn't it? It is. And according to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Noelle's case should have been handled by her schools under federal Title IX regulations. See Harrington v. City of Attleboro, Case No: 15-cv-12769-DJC (D. Mass. Jan. 17, 2018). Discrimination based on sex stereotyping, or bullying, is actionable under Title IX. Title IX plays an outsized role in Massachusetts's high school disciplinary cases.

What is Title IX?

Title IX is a federal civil rights law enacted as part of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX"), 20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq. The law prohibits discrimination based on sex in athletics, employment, admission, and financial aid decisions at federally funded schools. While Congress initially intended the law to promoted gender equity at K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, case law and Title IX regulations expanded the law to include sexual harassment, assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, and yes, bullying in some cases.

If a school knows or should have known about harassment or assault that falls under Title IX, the school must investigate the incident and remediate the situation if necessary. All Massachusetts high schools have this obligation even if no parent or student makes a formal complaint. New Title IX regulations will now change how Massachusetts schools approach to Title IX investigations. For the first time, Title IX regulations specifically address what K-12 schools must do for sexual assault cases involving students.

Massachusetts State Law

Massachusetts law also covers student discipline and procedures. While Massachusetts legislation doesn't specifically address Title IX investigations, Massachusetts state law will still affect how high schools investigate and handle Title IX student claims. If police charge a student with a felony, a high school principal may suspend the student under Massachusetts law and provide written notice of the charges, the reason for suspension, and appeal rights. See M.G.L. ch. 71, § 37H1/2. If a court convicts the student of a felony, the principal can expel the student and provide the same appeal rights to the superintendent. See id

Massachusetts law also allows a school principal to suspend or expel a student for violating the school code of conduct, or for reasons other than a felony charge or conviction. See M.G.L. ch. 71, § 37H3/4. The same statute directs schools to develop rules and regulations describing the procedures schools should follow. Massachusetts high schools will often use the same rules and regulations to decide Title IX complaints.

It's important to remember that, if the student is also facing criminal charges, whatever the student says in a disciplinary hearing can also be used against them in court. Thus, it's imperative that a student facing a serious disciplinary action, with or without criminal charges, also consults a student rights advisor or attorney as soon as possible during the proceedings.

New Title IX Regulations for Massachusetts High Schools

Under the recently issued Title IX regulations, Massachusetts high schools must internally address sexual assault cases whether or not law enforcement pursues charges or investigates. The new regulations also state:

  • If a student makes a Title IX claim, the school must notify the parents of all students involved in the incident.
  • The school must also notify all parents of any evidence the school is gathering.
  • The school must give the accused student ten days to respond to the allegations.
  • If the school issues punishment for a Title IX sexual assault, it must notify the victim in writing.
  • All schools must keep written records of Title IX actions for at least seven years.
  • The Title IX incident investigator cannot also determine whether the student is responsible. This delineation allows for a more neutral decider but may also necessitate that some Massachusetts school systems hire additional Title IX staff.
  • Whenever any district employee learns of a potential sexual harassment or assault incident, the high school must investigate the claim, regardless of who reports it. Even bus drivers and office staff may have reporting obligations under Title IX.
  • Massachusetts high schools must investigate possible Title IX incidents that happen off-campus if the event is associated with school, including athletic events, field trips, conferences, and music competitions.
  • Schools must provide a variety of accessible options for reporting sexual harassment, including writing, verbally, via email, or via phone reports.
  • Anyone can report a possible Title IX incident, including parents, students, sexual assault survivors, friends, and bystanders.

The final regulations the DOE issued removed some of the more controversial measures for K-12 schools, including live hearings and cross-examination of witnesses. The new regulations go into effect on August 14, 2020.

Keeping Massachusetts High Schools Accountable

Massachusetts high schools are supposed to comply with Title IX regulations, state law regarding student discipline, and school policies and procedures for investigations, hearings, and appeals. These laws ensure every student's due process rights. However, the tangled relationship between federal law, state law, and local regulations can be challenging to follow. If you or your child face a Title IX investigation and disciplinary proceeding, or even criminal charges, you must consult an experienced Title IX and student rights attorney or advisor. 

Experienced Title IX and Students Rights Attorney

Attorney Joseph D. Lento is well versed in student rights law and federal Title IX laws and regulations. He has resolved hundreds of Title IX cases at schools across the country through negotiation and investigation and hearings. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686 or contact us through the online form.

Massachusetts high schools where Joseph D. Lento can help as your child's student's Title IX advisor during investigations, hearings and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following school districts:

A

  • Abington School Department
  • Acton School Department
  • Acton-Boxborough Regional School District
  • Acushnet School Department
  • Adams-Cheshire Regional School District
  • Agawam School Department
  • Amesbury School Department
  • Amherst School Department
  • Amherst-Pelham Regional School District
  • Andover School Department
  • Arlington School Department
  • Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District
  • Ashland School Department
  • Athol-Royalston Regional School District
  • Attleborough School Department
  • Auburn School Department
  • Avon School Department
  • Ayer School Department

B

  • Barnstable School Department
  • Bedford School Department
  • Belchertown School Department
  • Bellingham School Department
  • Berkley School Department
  • Berlin School Department
  • Berlin-Boylston Regional School District
  • Beverly School Department
  • Billerica School Department
  • Blackstone-Millville Regional School District
  • Boston Public Schools
  • Bourne School Department
  • Boylston School Department
  • Braintree School Department
  • Brewster School Department
  • Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District
  • Brockton Public Schools
  • Brookfield School Department
  • Brookline School Department
  • Burlington School Department

C

  • Cambridge School Department
  • Canton School Department
  • Carlisle School Department
  • Carver School Department
  • Central Berkshire Regional School District
  • Chatham School Department
  • Chelmsford School Department
  • Chelsea School Department
  • Chesterfield-Goshen Regional School District
  • Chicopee School Department
  • Clarksburg School Department
  • Clinton School Department
  • Cohasset School Department
  • Concord School Department
  • Concord-Carlisle Regional School District
  • Conway School Department

D

  • Danvers School Department
  • Dartmouth School Department
  • Dedham School Department
  • Deerfield School Department
  • Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District
  • Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District
  • Douglas School Department
  • Dover School Department
  • Dover-Sherborn Regional School District
  • Dracut School Department
  • Dudley-Charlton Regional School District
  • Duxbury School Department

E

  • East Bridgewater School Department
  • East Longmeadow School Department
  • Eastham School Department
  • Easthampton School Department
  • Easton School Department
  • Edgartown School Department
  • Erving School Department
  • Everett School Department

F

  • Fairhaven School Department
  • Fall River Public Schools
  • Falmouth School Department
  • Farmington River Regional School District
  • Fitchburg School Department
  • Florida School Department
  • Foxborough School Department
  • Framingham School Department
  • Franklin School Department
  • Freetown School Department
  • Freetown-Lakeville Regional School District
  • Frontier Regional School District

G

  • Gardner School Department
  • Gateway Regional School District
  • Georgetown School Department
  • Gill-Montague Regional School District
  • Gloucester School Department
  • Gosnold School Department
  • Grafton School Department
  • Granby School Department
  • Granville School Department
  • Greenfield School Department
  • Groton-Dunstable Regional School District

H

  • Hadley School Department
  • Halifax School Department
  • Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District
  • Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District
  • Hampshire Regional School District
  • Hancock School Department
  • Hanover School Department
  • Harvard School Department
  • Harwich School Department
  • Hatfield School Department
  • Haverhill Public Schools
  • Hawlemont Regional School District
  • Hingham School Department
  • Holbrook School Department
  • Holland School Department
  • Holliston School Department
  • Holyoke School Department
  • Hopedale School Department
  • Hopkinton School Department
  • Hudson School Department
  • Hull School Department

I

  • Ipswich School Department

K

  • King Philip Regional School District
  • Kingston School Department

L

  • Lakeville School Department
  • Lanesborough School Department
  • Lawrence Public Schools
  • Lee School Department
  • Leicester School Department
  • Lenox School Department
  • Leominster School Department
  • Leverett School Department
  • Lexington School Department
  • Lincoln School Department
  • Lincoln-Sudbury Regional School District
  • Littleton School Department
  • Longmeadow School Department
  • Lowell Public Schools
  • Ludlow School Department
  • Lunenburg School Department
  • Lynn Public Schools
  • Lynnfield School Department

M

  • Malden School Department
  • Manchester-Essex Regional School District
  • Mansfield School Department
  • Marblehead School Department
  • Marion School Department
  • Marlborough School Department
  • Marshfield School Department
  • Martha's Vineyard Regional School District
  • Masconomet Regional School District
  • Mashpee School Department
  • Mattapoisett School Department
  • Maynard School Department
  • Medfield School Department
  • Medford School Department
  • Medway School Department
  • Melrose School Department
  • Mendon-Upton Regional School District
  • Methuen Public Schools
  • Middleborough School Department
  • Middleton School Department
  • Milford School Department
  • Millbury School Department
  • Millis School Department
  • Milton School Department
  • Mohawk Trail Regional School District
  • Monson School Department
  • Mount Greylock Regional School District

N

  • Nahant School Department
  • Nantucket School Department
  • Narragansett Regional School District
  • Nashoba Regional School District
  • Natick School Department
  • Nauset Regional School District
  • Needham School Department
  • New Bedford Public Schools
  • New Salem-Wendell Regional School District
  • Newburyport School Department
  • Newton Public Schools
  • North Attleborough School Department
  • North Middlesex Regional School District
  • North Reading School Department
  • Northampton School Department
  • Northborough School Department
  • Northborough-Southborough Regional School District
  • Northbridge School Department
  • Norton School Department
  • Norwood School Department

O

  • Oak Bluffs School Department
  • Old Rochester Regional School District
  • Orange School Department
  • Orleans School Department
  • Oxford School Department

P

  • Palmer School Department
  • Peabody School Department
  • Pelham School Department
  • Pembroke School Department
  • Pentucket Regional School District
  • Petersham School Department
  • Pioneer Valley Regional School District
  • Pittsfield School Department
  • Plainville School Department
  • Plymouth School Department
  • Plympton School Department
  • Provincetown School Department

Q

  • Quabbin Regional School District
  • Quaboag Regional School District
  • Quincy Public Schools

R

  • Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District
  • Randolph School Department
  • Reading School Department
  • Revere School Department
  • Richmond School Department
  • Rochester School Department
  • Rockland School Department
  • Rockport School Department
  • Rowe School Department

S

  • Salem School Department
  • Sandwich School Department
  • Saugus School Department
  • Savoy School Department
  • Scituate School Department
  • Seekonk Public Schools
  • Sharon School Department
  • Sherborn School Department
  • Shirley School Department
  • Shrewsbury Public Schools
  • Shutesbury School Department
  • Somerset School Department
  • Somerville School Department
  • Southampton School Department
  • Southborough School Department
  • Southbridge School Department
  • Southern Berkshire Regional School District
  • Southwick-Tolland Regional School District
  • Spencer-East Brookfield Regional School District
  • Springfield Public Schools
  • Stoneham School Department
  • Stoughton School Department
  • Sturbridge School Department
  • Sudbury Public Schools
  • Sunderland School Department
  • Sutton School Department
  • Swampscott School Department
  • Swansea School Department

T

  • Tantasqua Regional School District
  • Taunton School Department
  • Tewksbury School Department
  • Tisbury School Department
  • Topsfield School Department
  • Triton Regional School District
  • Truro School Department

U

  • Up-Island Regional School District
  • Uxbridge School Department

W

  • Wachusett Regional School District
  • Wakefield School Department
  • Wales School Department
  • Walpole School Department
  • Waltham School Department
  • Ware School Department
  • Wareham School Department
  • Watertown School Department
  • Wayland School Department
  • Webster School Department
  • Wellesley School Department
  • Wellfleet School Department
  • West Boylston School Department
  • West Bridgewater School Department
  • West Springfield School Department
  • Westborough Public Schools
  • Westfield School Department
  • Westford School Department
  • Westhampton School Department
  • Weston School Department
  • Westport School Department
  • Westwood School Department
  • Weymouth School Department
  • Whately School Department
  • Whitman-Hanson Regional School District
  • Williamsburg School Department
  • Williamstown School Department
  • Wilmington School Department
  • Winchendon School Department
  • Winchester School Department
  • Winthrop School Department
  • Woburn School Department
  • Worcester Public Schools
  • Wrentham School Department

It is critical to make certain the Title IX investigation at your child's Massachusetts high school is handled properly and that the accused student's interests and rights are protected from as early as possible during the sexual misconduct investigative process.  One major reason is because even at high 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 high 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 student is found responsible or not responsible for Title IX charges.

Unfortunately, some parents 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 allegations and Title IX charges would not exist.

Fighting passionately for the future of his clients at schools throughout the nation for many years, Joseph D. Lento knows how important it is to mount the strongest defense because he understands that an accused high school student's academic 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 New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, 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 attorney advisor to high school students facing sexual misconduct investigations and disciplinary cases in Massachusetts and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National High School Title IX Attorney Joseph D. Lento today at 888-535-3686.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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