High School Title IX Advisor - Washington

While many people in Washington have heard of "Title IX," they may not fully understand what it is or how it works in Washington schools. We often hear about sexual assault investigations on college campuses, but Title IX applies to any federally funded educational institutions, including K-12 schools. Parents of high school students should become familiar with new Title IX regulations that take effect on August 14, 2020, and Washington law that already guides state high school disciplinary proceedings.

How Does Title IX Affect Washington High Schools? 

Title IX is a federal civil rights law enacted by Congress in 1972 as part of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX"). See 20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq. The law prohibits federally funded educational institutions from discriminating on the basis of sex concerning admissions, athletics, employment, and financial aid. 

While Congress originally intended the law to provide equal access to education and employment for women and girls, court cases and federal regulations interpreting and explaining the law expanded its scope over the last 45 years. Now, the law also covers sexual harassment, assault, stalking, and dating violence in K-12 schools and colleges and universities. Many states, including Washington, also passed legislation incorporating Title IX regulations into state law.

Washington State Law

Washington law prohibits sexual harassment that creates a hostile environment in schools. Schools that know, or reasonably should have known, about harassment or assault, must investigate the incident and take steps to protect students. Schools must take these steps even if no parent or student files a complaint.

While Washington's law closely follows earlier Title IX regulations and incorporates them in part, new federal regulations will still affect how high schools in the state implement Title IX investigations and disciplinary actions. See, e.g., WAC § 392-190-007 (2014).

New Title IX Regulations for Washington High Schools

The new Title IX regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Education ("DOE"), include new requirements for high schools, including:

  • High schools must address sexual abuse cases internally, regardless of whether or not law enforcement pursues an investigation or criminal charges.
  • Schools must notify all students involved in the accusations.
  • Schools must notify all students involved of the evidence the school is gathering.
  • High schools must give the accused ten days to respond to the allegations.
  • All schools must keep written records of actions taken under Title IX investigations for at least seven years.
  • A Title IX investigator cannot also decide if a student is responsible, ensuring a neutral arbitrator.
  • If any district employee learns of a potential harassment or assault claim, a high school must investigate.
  • 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 verbally, in writing, and by email or phone.
  • Anyone can report an incident including parents, students, victims, friends, and bystanders.

The New Definition of Sexual Harassment

One of the most significant changes to Title IX regulations is the redefinition of sexual harassment. Earlier Title IX regulations defined sexual harassment in a way that closely aligned with Washington state's definition.

Washington's law defines sexual harassment as: 

[…u]nwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical contact, or other verbal or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature if:

(i) Submission to that conduct or communication is made a term or condition, either explicitly or implicitly, of obtaining an education or employment;

(ii) Submission to or rejection of that conduct or communication by an individual is used as a factor in decisions affecting that individual's education or employment; or

(iii) That conduct or communication has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's educational or work performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational or work environment.

RCW § 28A.640.020(2)(f) (1994).

The new Title IX regulations define sexual harassment to include:

  • Any instance of quid pro quo harassment by a school's employee;
  • Any unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would find so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it denies a person equal educational access;
  • Any instance of sexual assault as defined in the Clery Act, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking as defined in the Violence Against Women Act.

The new regulations also change the definition of sexual assault to "an offense that meets the definition of rape, fondling, incest, or statutory rape as used in the FBI's [Uniform Crime Reporting] program."

While Title IX's regulations define sexual harassment more narrowly, if someone accuses a Washington high school student of sexual harassment, the school may follow the narrow federal definition in determining whether to investigate and remediate the situation under Title IX. However, a student may still face an investigation and disciplinary action under the broader Washington definition. Although Washington's law specifically follows and adapts the regulations the Department of Education promulgates under Title IX, see WAC § 392-190-007 (2014), other parts of Washington Law may conflict. See also RCW § 28A.640.020(2)(f). A student or staff member could still face repercussions related to a sexual harassment complaint. As a result, consulting an experienced Title IX advisor about the applicable law is essential.

Keeping Washington Schools Accountable

Navigating both Washington law, federal law, and school district policy concerning Title IX in high schools can be complicated and nuanced. If your student faces a Title IX investigation or disciplinary hearing in Washington, you quickly need an experienced students' rights advisor or attorney. An advisor can help protect your high school's students due process rights under federal and state law and applicable school policies and procedures. If found responsible for a Title IX violation, your high school student could face suspension, expulsion, and removal from athletics and activities. Your student's future educational prospects could be in jeopardy.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento is an experienced students' rights attorney and advisor. He has successfully resolved Title IX investigations and disciplinary matters through negotiation and disciplinary hearings and processes at high schools across the country. If your child is facing a high school Title IX investigation in Washington, Joseph Lento can help. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686 or contact us through the online form.

Washington 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

  • Aberdeen School District
  • Adna School District
  • Almira School District
  • Anacortes School District
  • Arlington School District
  • Asotin-Anatone School District
  • Auburn School District

B

  • Bainbridge School District
  • Battle Ground School District
  • Bellevue School District
  • Bellingham School District
  • Benge School District
  • Bethel School District
  • Bickleton School District
  • Blaine School District
  • Boistfort School District
  • Bremerton School District
  • Brewster School District
  • Bridgeport School District
  • Brinnon School District
  • Burlington-Edison School District

C

  • Camas School District
  • Cape Flattery School District
  • Carbonado School District
  • Cascade School District
  • Cashmere School District
  • Castle Rock School District
  • Centerville School District
  • Central Kitsap School District
  • Central Valley School District
  • Centralia School District
  • Chehalis School District
  • Cheney School District
  • Chewlah School District
  • Chimacum School District
  • Clarkston School District
  • Cle Elum-Roslyn School District
  • Clover School District
  • Colfax School District
  • College Place School District
  • Colton School District
  • Columbia School District (Stevens)
  • Columbia School District (Walla Walla)
  • Colville School District
  • Concrete School District
  • Conway Consolidated School District
  • Cosmopolis School District
  • Coulee-Hartline School District
  • Coupeville School District
  • Crescent School District
  • Creston School District
  • Curlew School District
  • Cusick School District

D

  • Damman School District
  • Darrington School District
  • Davenport School District
  • Dayton School District
  • Deer Park School District
  • Dieringer School District
  • Dixie School District

E

  • East Valley School District (Yakima)
  • East Valley School District (Spokane)
  • Eastmont School District
  • Easton School District
  • Eatonville School District
  • Edmonds School District
  • Ellensburg School District
  • Elma School District
  • Endicott School District
  • Entiat School District
  • Enumclaw School District
  • Ephrata School District
  • Evaline School District
  • Everrett School District
  •   Evergreen Public Schools (Clark)
  • Evergreen School District (Stevens)

F

  • Federal Way School District
  • Ferndale School District
  • Fife Public School District
  • Finley School District
  • Franklin Pierce School District
  • Freeman School District

G

  • Garfield School District
  • Glenwood School District
  • Goldendale School District
  • Grand Coulee Dam School District
  • Grandview School District
  • Granger School District
  • Granite Falls School District
  • Grapeview School District
  • Great Northern School District
  • Green Mountain School District
  • Griffin School District

H

  • Harrington School District
  • Highland School District
  • Highline School District
  • Hockinson School District
  • Hood Canal School District
  • Hoquiam School District

I

  • Inchelium School District
  • Index School District
  • Issaquah School District

K

  • Kahlotus School District
  • Kalama School District
  • Keller School District
  • Kelso School District
  • Kennewick School District
  • Kent School District
  • Kettle Falls School District
  • Kiona-Benton City School District
  • Kittitas School District
  • Klickitat School District

L

  • LaCenter School District
  • LaConner School District
  • LaCrosse School District
  • Lake Chelan School District
  • Lake Stevens School District
  • Lake Washington School District
  • Lakewood School District
  • Lamont School District
  • Liberty School District
  • Lind School District
  • Longview Public Schools
  • Loon Lake School District
  • Lopez School District
  • Lyle School District
  • Lynden School District

M

  • Mabton School District
  • Mansfield School District
  • Manson School District
  • Mary M. Knight School District
  • Mary Walker School District
  • Maryville School District
  • McCleary School District
  • Mead School District
  • Medical Lake School District
  • Mercer School District
  • Meridian School District
  • Methow Valley School District
  • Mill A School District
  • Monroe School District
  • Montesano School District
  • Morton School District
  • Moses Lake School District
  • Mossyrock School District
  • Mount Adams School District
  • Mount Baker School District
  • Mount Pleasant School District
  •   Mount Vernon School District
  • Mukilteo School District

N

  • Naches School District
  • Napavine School District
  • Naselle-Grays River Valley School District
  • Nespelem School District
  • Newport School District
  • Nine Mile Falls School District
  • Nooksack Valley School District
  • North Beach School District
  • North Franklin School District
  • North Kitsap School District
  • North Mason School District
  • North River School District
  • North Thurston Public Schools
  • Northport School District
  • Northshore School District

O

  • Oak Harbor School District
  • Oakesdale School District
  • Oakville School District
  • Ocean Beach School District
  • Ocosta School District
  • Odessa School District
  • Okanogan School District
  • Olympia School District
  • Omak School District
  • Onalaska School District
  • Onion Creek School District
  • Orcas Island School District
  • Orchard Prairie School District
  • Orient School District
  • Orondo School District
  • Oroville School District
  • Orting School District
  • Othello School District

P

  • Palisades School District
  • Palouse School District
  • Pasco School District
  • Pateros School District
  • Paterson School District
  • Pe Ell School District
  • Peninsula School District
  • Pioneer School District
  • Pomeroy School District
  • Port Angeles School District
  • Port Townsend School District
  • Prescott School District
  • Prosser School District
  • Pullman School District
  • Puyallup School District

Q

  • Queets-Clearwater School District
  • Quilcene School District
  • Quillayute School District
  • Quinault School District
  • Quincy School District

R

  • Rainier School District
  • Raymond School District
  • Reardan-Edwall School District
  • Renton School District
  • Republic School District
  • Richland School District
  • Ridgefield School District
  • Ritzville School District
  • Riverside School District
  • Riverview School District
  • Rochester School District
  • Roosevelt School District
  • Rosalia School District
  • Royal School District

S

  • S