High School Title IX Advisor - Virginia

Did you know that Title IX regulations apply to Virginia high schools? In November of 2014, the University of Virginia suspended the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity after a student raised accusations of multiple sexual assaults at the frat house in Rolling Stone magazine. Residents of the commonwealth were shocked by the fraternity members' actions, only to discover that their accuser may have fabricated the entire story. Rolling Stone retracted the story entirely in April of 2015. While many Virginia residents may be familiar with Title IX, many don't understand the outsized role that the federal law plays in sexual assault and harassment claims on state college and high school campuses in Virginia. That's right; Title IX regulations apply to Virginia K-12 schools as well.

What is Title IX?

Title IX is a federal civil rights statute that applies to all U.S. federally funded colleges, universities, high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools. Congress enacted the law as part of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX"), 20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq. While the law's original intent was to ensure gender-neutral access to education by prohibiting discrimination based on sex in school admissions, athletics, financial awards, and employment, case law and regulations expanded the scope of Title IX over the last 45 years. Now, Title IX also includes allegations of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and sexual harassment.

New regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education in May of 2020 will change how many Virginia high schools approach Title IX investigations and hearings. For the first time, Title IX regulations now specifically address what K-12 schools must do when dealing with sexual assault cases that involve students. While many colleges and universities had an employee dedicated to Title IX enforcement, most high schools and other K-12 schools did not.

Virginia's Mandatory Reporting Law

Under Virginia law, school employees must report criminal sexual abuse cases to the police. If a teacher or any school employee has "reason to suspect that a child is an abused or neglected child, [they] shall report the matter immediately to the local department of the county or city wherein the child resides or wherein the abuse or neglect is believed to have occurred or to the Department's toll-free child abuse and neglect hotline." Va. Code § 63.2-1509 (2020).

New Title IX Regulations for High Schools

Under new Title IX regulations, high schools must also internally address sexual abuse cases, regardless of whether or not law enforcement pursues an investigation or criminal charges. If a student reports an incident of sexual harassment or assault that falls under Title IX, the school must notify the parents of all students involved in the accusations and the evidence the school is gathering. The school must also give the accused student ten days to respond to the allegations. If the school decides to punish a student due to Title IX sexual assault allegations, the school must notify the victim in writing.

The new regulations also state:

  • Schools must keep written records of actions taken under Title IX investigations for at least seven years.
  • The person who investigates the Title IX claim cannot decide whether the student is responsible, allowing for a neutral decider. This may mean that many high schools will need to hire and train additional Title IX staff.
  • High schools must investigate whenever any district employee learns of a potential sexual harassment or assault incident, no matter who reports it. District employees might include teachers, bus drivers, or guidance counselors.
  • High schools must also investigate incidents that arise off-campus, such as during athletic events, field trips, or conferences.
  • Schools must have accessible options for reporting sexual harassment, including verbal reports, reports in writing, and email or phone reports.
  • Anyone can report an incident, including parents, students, sexual assault survivors, friends, and bystanders.

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

Changing the Definition of Sexual Harassment

One of the DOE's most impactful regulatory changes includes the definition of sexual harassment. The new rules narrow the definition, defining 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. While victim's rights advocates argue that the new definition will subject students to even more harassment before they can report it, the DOE explained that it narrowed the definition to permit speech protected by the first amendment. 

We're Keeping Virginia High Schools Accountable

Under Virginia law, high schools must create school policies that deal with assault, harassment, bullying, and other bodily injuries with standards consistent with federal and state laws. See Va. Code § 22.1-279.6 (2020). Virginia schools must also develop standards for removing students from class, suspension, expulsion, and other disciplinary measures, including Title IX disciplinary proceedings. While Virginia law requires that schools comply with federal law, high school disciplinary proceedings often fly under the radar, particularly if parents don't understand their high school student's due process rights.

For parents with a high school student facing a Title IX allegation, it's good to contact an experienced students' rights advisor or attorney as soon as possible. Some due process problems that may arise during a Virginia high school disciplinary proceeding include:

  • Not providing a neutral decision-maker
  • Not providing the accused student with written notice of the allegations
  • Not providing both the accused and the accuser with a full copy of the investigative report
  • Not providing a full and fair hearing, if the school district offers one
  • Not following the school district's stated disciplinary procedures
  • Not providing equal rights to both parties during the disciplinary process

Because parents can find it challenging to untangle the labyrinth of Virginia laws, school district policies, and federal Title IX laws, it is vital to consult an expert as soon as possible. High schools can suspend or expel students found responsible for a Title IX allegation, affecting their high school graduation, athletic and activity participation, and future educational prospects,

Experienced Title IX and Students Rights Attorney

Joseph D. Lento is an experienced Title IX advisor and attorney. He regularly assists with Title IX investigations, administrative hearings, and defense at schools across the country. Joseph Lento has also successfully resolved cases through both the investigation process and those adjudicated by schools through a disciplinary hearing. If your child is facing a high school Title IX investigation in Virginia or elsewhere, he can help. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686 or contact us through the online form.

Virginia 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

  • Accomack Public Schools
  • Albemarle County Public Schools
  • Alexandria City Public Schools
  • Alleghany Public Schools
  • Amelia Public Schools
  • Amherst Public Schools
  • Appomattox Public Schools
  • Arlington Public Schools
  • Augusta County Public Schools

B

  • Bath Public Schools
  • Bedford County Public Schools
  • Bland Public Schools
  • Botetourt Public Schools
  • Bristol Public Schools
  • Brunswick Public Schools
  • Buchanan Public Schools
  • Buckingham Public Schools
  • Buena Vista Public Schools

C

  • Campbell Public Schools
  • Caroline Public Schools
  • Carroll Public Schools
  • Charles City Public Schools
  • Charlotte County Public Schools
  • Charlottesville Public Schools
  • Chesapeake Public Schools
  • Chesterfield County Public Schools
  • Clarke Public Schools
  • Colonial Beach Public Schools
  • Colonial Heights Public Schools
  • Covington Public Schools
  • Craig Public Schools
  • Culpeper Public Schools
  • Cumberland Public Schools

D

  • Danville Public Schools
  • Dickenson County Public Schools
  • Dinwiddie Public Schools

E

  • Essex Public Schools

F

  • Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Falls Church City Public Schools
  • Fauquier County Public Schools
  • Floyd Public Schools
  • Fluvanna Public Schools
  • Franklin City Public Schools
  • Franklin County Public Schools
  • Frederick County Public Schools
  • Fredericksburg Public Schools

G

  • Galax Public Schools
  • Giles Public Schools
  • Gloucester Public Schools
  • Goochland Public Schools
  • Grayson Public Schools
  • Greene Public Schools
  • Greensville Public Schools

H

  • Halifax Public Schools
  • Hampton City Schools
  • Hanover County Public Schools
  • Harrisonburg Public Schools
  • Henrico County Public Schools
  • Highland Public Schools
  • Hopewell Public Schools

I

  • Isle of Wight Public Schools

K

  • King and Queen Public Schools
  • King George Public Schools
  • King William Public Schools

L

  • Lancaster Public Schools
  • Lee Public Schools
  • Lexington Public Schools
  • Loudoun County Public Schools
  • Louisa Public Schools
  • Lunenburg Public Schools
  • Lynchburg City Public Schools

M

  • Madison Public Schools
  • Manassas City Public Schools
  • Manassas Park Public Schools
  • Martinsville Public Schools
  • Mathews Public Schools
  • Mecklenburg Public Schools
  • Middlesex Public Schools
  • Montgomery Public Schools

N

  • Nelson Public Schools
  • New Kent Public Schools
  • Newport News Public Schools
  • Norfolk Public Schools
  • Northampton County Public Schools
  • Northumberland County Public Schools
  • Norton City Schools
  • Nottoway County Public Schools

O

  • Orange County Public Schools

P

  • Page County Public Schools
  • Patrick County Public Schools
  • Petersburg Public Schools
  • Pittsylvania County Public Schools
  • Poquoson City Public Schools
  • Portsmouth Public Schools
  • Powhatan County Public Schools
  • Prince Edward County Public Schools
  • Prince George County Public Schools
  • Prince William County Public Schools
  • Pulaski County Public Schools

R

  • Radford City Schools
  • Rappahannock County Public Schools
  • Richmond County Public Schools
  • Richmond Public Schools
  • Roanoke City Public Schools
  • Roanoke County Public Schools
  • Rockbridge County Public Schools
  • Rockingham County Public Schools
  • Russell County Public Schools

S

  • Salem City Schools
  • Scott County Public Schools
  • Shenandoah County Public Schools
  • Smyth County Public Schools
  • Southampton County Public Schools  
  • Spotsylvania County Public Schools
  • Stafford County Public Schools
  • Staunton City Public Schools
  • Suffolk Public Schools
  • Surry County Public Schools   
  • Sussex County Public Schools

T

  • Tazewell County Public Schools

V

  • Virginia Beach City Public Schools
  • Virginia School for the Deaf, Blind and Multi-disabled at Hampton
  • Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind

W

  • Warren County Public Schools               
  • Washington County Public Schools
  • Waynesboro Public Schools
  • West Point Public Schools       
  • Westmoreland County Public Schools
  • Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools
  • Winchester Public Schools
  • Wise County Public Schools
  • Wythe County Public Schools

Y

  • York County School Division

It is critical to make certain the Title IX investigation at your child's Virginia 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 Pennsylvania, New Jersey, 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 Virginia 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.

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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