High School Title IX Advisor - Tennessee

In the 2018-2019 school year, local school districts in Tennessee combined received 10,934 complaints of bullying or harassment. After investigation, schools confirmed about 50% of those cases as cases of bullying or harassment. While we often hear about bullying in high school, we don't often associate it with Title IX. We tend to think of Title IX as a federal law that only affects colleges and universities. But Title IX plays a significant role in Tennessee student discipline cases.

What is Title IX?

Title IX is a federal civil rights statute applicable to all U.S. federally funded colleges, universities, and K-12 schools. Congress enacted the law as part of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX"), 20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq. Congress's original intent was to ensure equitable access to education by prohibiting discrimination based on sex in school admissions, athletics, financial awards, and employment. Since its implementation more than 45 years ago, case law and regulations have expanded the scope of Title IX to include allegations of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, and some cases of bullying.

New regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education in May of 2020 will undoubtedly change Tennessee schools' approach Title IX investigations and hearings. For the first time, Title IX regulations now address what K-12 schools must do when handling student-involved sexual assault cases. While many colleges and universities had at least one employee dedicated to Title IX enforcement, many Tennessee high schools and smaller school districts do not.

Tennessee State Law

Tennessee takes Title IX violations, and violations of state bullying and harassment laws, seriously. State law mandates that the Tennessee department of education compile an annual report showing each local education agency's compliance with state bullying and harassment laws. Each report supplies the total state-wide number of complaints and then breaks down cases by (1) race, color, or national origin; (2) sex or gender; (3) disability; and (4) those involving electronic technology.

Under Tennessee law, "harassment, intimidation, or bullying" is defined as any act that substantially interferes with a student's educational benefits, opportunities, or performance and:

1. If the act occurs on school grounds, at any school-sponsored activity, on school-provided equipment or transportation, or at any official school bus stop, the act has the effect of:

  • Physically harming a student or damaging a student's property;
  • Knowingly placing a student or students in reasonable fear of physical harm to the student or damage to the student's property;
  • Causing emotional distress to a student or students; or
  • Creating a hostile educational environment; or
  1. If the act takes place off school property or outside of a school-sponsored activity, it is explicitly directed at a student or students and has the effect of creating a hostile educational environment or otherwise creating a substantial disruption to the education environment or learning process.

See Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-4502(a)(3) (2014). Tennessee law defines "cyber-bullying" as bullying undertaken through the use of electronic devices. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-4502(a)(1) (2014).

New Title IX Regulations for Tennessee High Schools

Under the new rules, schools must internally handle allegations of sexual assault that involve students even if law enforcement fails to pursue charges or an investigation. Moreover, schools must now inform the parents of all students involved in an alleged Title IX incident of the accusations and the evidence they are collecting. Once notified of the accusations, high schools must give the accused student ten days to respond to the allegations.

The new regulations also include:

  • Reporting: Anyone, including parents, students, sexual assault survivors, friends, and bystanders, can report an incident.
  • Reporting Options: Schools must have accessible options for reporting sexual harassment, including verbal reports, reports in writing, and email or phone reports.
  • Investigations: High schools must investigate whenever any district employee learns of a potential sexual harassment or assault incident.
  • Determinations: The Title IX investigator for the school cannot be the person who decides whether the student is responsible, allowing for more impartial decisions from school officials.
  • Off-campus Incidents: High schools must also investigate off-campus incidents, such as during athletic events, field trips, or conferences.
  • Victim Notification: If the school decides to punish a student due to Title IX sexual assault allegations, the school must notify the victim in writing.
  • Records: Schools must keep written records of Title IX actions for at least seven years.

While the final regulations issued by the DOE exclude some of the more controversial provisions, like open hearings and witness cross-examination, Tennessee schools can still include these options if they are part of regular school disciplinary procedures. The new regulations take effect on August 14, 2020.

The New Definition of Sexual Harassment

One of the DOE's most significant Title IX changes narrows the definition of sexual harassment. The new rules define sexual harassment as unwelcome conduct that a "reasonable person" would consider "so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access" to an education. The DOE explained that it narrowed the definition to permit speech protected by the first amendment.

Experienced Title IX and Students Rights Attorney

Tennessee schools must implement policies and procedures to prevent bullying and harassment and guide disciplinary hearings, suspensions, and expulsions. Tennessee high schools must also comply with federal Title IX laws and regulations. But high school disciplinary proceedings often fly under the radar, with no media or community attention. That's why an attorney-advisor is needed to help students and parents navigate the intersection between federal and Tennessee state law and local school policies and procedures for investigations and discipline.

If you or your child are facing a Title IX investigation or disciplinary hearing, you must consult with an experienced student rights and Title IX attorney-advisor quickly to protect your due process rights. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has resolved hundreds of Title IX cases through both negotiations and investigations and hearings at hundreds of schools across the country. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686 or contact us through the online form.

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

A

  • Alamo City Schools
  • Alcoa City Schools
  • Anderson County Schools
  • Athens City Elementary Schools

B

  • Bedford County Schools
  • Bells City Schools
  • Benton County Schools
  • Bledsoe County Schools
  • Blount County Schools
  • Bradford Special Schools
  • Bradley County Schools
  • Bristol City Schools

C

  • Campbell County Schools
  • Cannon County Schools
  • Carroll County Schools
  • Carter County Schools
  • Cheatham County Schools
  • Chester County School District
  • Claiborne County Schools
  • Clay County Schools
  • Cleveland City Schools
  • Clinton City Schools
  • Cocke County Schools
  • Coffee County Schools
  • Crockett County Schools
  • Cumberland County Schools

D

  • Dayton City Elementary Schools
  • Decatur County Schools
  • Dekalb County Schools
  • Dickson County Schools
  • Dyer County Schools
  • Dyersburg City Schools

E

  • Elizabethton City Schools
  • Etowah City Elementary Schools

F

  • Fayette County Schools
  • Fayetteville City Elementary Schools
  • Fentress County Schools
  • Franklin City Elementary Schools
  • Franklin County Schools

G

  • Gibson Special Schools
  • Giles County Schools
  • Grainger County Schools
  • Greene County Schools
  • Greeneville City Schools
  • Grundy County Schools

H

  • Hamblen County Schools
  • Hamilton County School District
  • Hancock County Schools
  • Hardeman County Schools
  • Hardin County Schools
  • Hawkins County Schools
  • Haywood County Schools
  • Henderson County Schools
  • Henry County Schools
  • Hickman County Schools
  • Hollow Rock-Bruceton Schools
  • Houston County Schools
  • Humboldt City Schools
  • Humphreys County Schools
  • Huntingdon Special Schools

J

  •  Jackson County Schools
  • Jackson-Madison County School System
  • Jefferson County Schools
  • Johnson City Schools
  • Johnson County Schools

K

  • Kingsport City Schools
  • Knox County Schools

L

  • Lake County Schools
  • Lauderdale County Schools
  • Lawrence County Schools
  • Lebanon Special Schools
  • Lenoir City Schools
  • Lewis County Schools
  • Lexington City Elementary Schools
  • Lincoln County Schools
  • Loudon County Schools

M

  • Macon County Schools
  • Manchester City Schools
  • Marion County Schools
  • Marshall County Schools
  • Maryville City Schools
  • Maury County Schools
  • McKenzie Special School District
  • McMinn County Schools
  • McNairy County Schools
  • Meigs County Schools
  • Milan Special School District
  • Monroe County Schools
  • Montgomery County Public Schools
  • Moore County Schools
  • Morgan County Schools
  • Murfreesboro City Schools

N

  • Nashville-Davidson County School District
  • Newport City Elementary Schools

O

  • Oak Ridge City Schools
  • Obion County Schools
  • Oneida City Schools
  • Overton County Schools

P

  • Paris City Special Schools
  • Perry County Schools
  • Pickett County Schools
  • Polk County Schools

R

  • Rhea County Schools
  • Roane County Schools
  • Robertson County Schools
  • Rogersville City Elementary Schools
  • Rutherford County Schools

S

  • Scott County Schools
  • Sequatchie County Schools
  • Sevier County Schools
  • Shelby County School District
  • Smith County Schools
  • Stewart County Schools
  • Sullivan County Schools
  • Sumner County Schools
  • Sweetwater City Schools

T

  • Tipton County Schools
  • Trenton City Schools
  • Trousdale County Schools
  • Tullahoma City Schools

U

  • Unicoi School
  • Union City School
  • Union County School

V

  • Van Buren County Schools

W

  • Warren County Schools
  • Washington County Schools
  • Wayne County Schools
  • Weakley County Schools
  • White County Schools
  • Williamson County Schools
  • Williamson County School District
  • Wilson County Schools

It is critical to make certain the Title IX investigation at your child's Tennessee 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 Tennessee and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National 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.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

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