Students facing Title IX allegations must endure a stringent hearing process with administrators ready to levy harsh consequences. If a school fails to respond quickly or punish violations adequately, they risk losing federal funding.
If you are a student accused of Title IX misconduct at an Iowa school, you have the opportunity to choose an advisor to assist you in the process. That advisor should be an experienced Title IX attorney that can help you protect your reputation.
How Does Title IX Work?
In 1972, the U.S. Congress passed Title IX legislation to prevent sex-based discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal funding. It's the primary method by which K-12 schools and institutions of higher education handle sexual misconduct allegations. The federal law also applies to various training programs and workshops.
Federal Title IX legislation covers activities like:
- Teacher workshops managed by state parks in Iowa receiving funding from the Department of the Interior
- Iowa high school 4-H programs and activities administered under the Department of Agriculture
- Vocational and training courses conducted in Iowa prisons and jails receiving money from the Department of Justice
- Storm spotter training classes managed by Iowa county emergency managers that receive their funding from the Department of Commerce
While Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex, it's been revised to include gender identity and adds sexual harassment as a form of discrimination. Moreover, policies requiring the hearing process to have in-person hearings, the cross-examination of witnesses, stringent reporting channels, and other stipulations providing equal protection to all parties are scheduled to be rolled back through Biden Administration guidelines.
Schools have also taken the definition of what constitutes harassment into their own hands. For example, at Iowa's Coe College, Title IX sexual misconduct hinges on the prevalence of "affirmative consent." According to them, consent must be given verbally, unambiguously, and "must be demonstrated through mutually understandable words and/or clear, unambiguous actions that indicate a willingness to engage freely in sexual activity."
Title IX Investigative and Grievance Process
All faculty and staff in Iowa K-12 schools must report Title IX misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator. Student confidentiality cannot be promised since they can have "actual knowledge" of allegations without the parties involved.
Under current Title IX law, institutions of higher education may have mandatory reporting requirements for all faculty, staff, and part-time employees or designate only some to be official resources. At Iowa's Northwestern College, "confidential reporting" is maintained if someone is unsure whether they want to report an incident. Certain campus employees are designated as resources to receive Title IX allegations but will not report to the Title IX Coordinator unless the alleged victim wants to proceed with the investigative process.
Nevertheless, once the school's administration has actual knowledge of an incident and subsequent allegations, the Title IX process begins.
- Title IX Coordinator will conduct an initial assessment to determine the procedure of action and whether the allegations warrant a formal grievance process.
- The Title IX Coordinator will contact the alleged victim (complainant) to discuss the allegations. Even if the school dismisses them, the administration may still address them in any manner the school deems appropriate under its code of conduct.
- The accused (respondent) is notified by the Title IX Coordinator of the allegations and apprises them of their rights, including choosing an advisor to assist them.
- An Investigator is selected by the Title IX Coordinator, who interviews both the complainant and respondent, collects evidence, and contacts witnesses.
- All evidence collected by the Investigator must be sent to both parties with at least ten days to review and respond. Critically, schools cannot restrict the parties from gathering evidence or discussing allegations.
- It's generally required for colleges and universities to provide a live hearing, which is optional for incidents in K-12 schools. In most cases, a live hearing will include opportunities for cross-examination. A school may or may not allow a student's advisor to be present at the hearing.
- An adjudicator(s) will render a determination based on the "preponderance of the evidence," meaning it's more likely than not that the respondent is responsible for the allegations.
- Both the complainant and the respondent will have the opportunity to appeal the decision. There are typically five days or less for a party to appeal the decision, which falls under a few circumstances:
- Procedural irregularities affected the outcome of the process
- Evidence emerges not reasonably available during the investigative, hearing, or punishment process
- The Title IX Coordinator, Investigator(s), adjudicator(s), or other parties involved in the formal grievance process had a conflict of interest or bias for or against complainants or respondents
- The decision supporting responsibility or sanctions levied was not supported by substantial evidence
- Parties cannot appeal a decision if they reach a pre-hearing resolution
Title IX's Long-Lasting Consequences
If a student is found responsible for Title IX misconduct, punishments are severe. Sanctions go far beyond written warnings, restitution, and mandated counseling. The reality is that suspension will most likely be the minimum penalty, but responsible parties are commonly expelled from the school or program.
The end of a student's academic career at a particular institution can be a traumatic ordeal itself, but the consequences are far more burdensome. For instance, an expelled student will have the nature and the outcome of the offense detailed on their transcript, making admittance into another Iowa school or elsewhere very tough. Even if the Title IX violation doesn't lead to expulsion, it may interfere with financial aid, becoming less competitive for graduate school, and being unable to obtain specific jobs and professional licenses.
How Can an Attorney Help You?
Your entire future is at risk when you're accused of Title IX misconduct. Not only must you defend yourself under complicated rules but under guidelines that are constantly changing.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento understands the fluctuations in federal Title IX law. He built his career on advising and defending students in Iowa and across the U.S. from Title IX misconduct allegations. He spends every day talking to faculty and administrators, fighting for his clients' rights, and negotiating fair settlements.
If you're a student accused of Title IX misconduct in Iowa, you need to act immediately. The school is well on its way to preparing its case, and you should be too. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or through its online form.
Iowa colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student's Title IX advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- AIB College of Business
- Allen College
- Briar Cliff University
- Brown Mackie College Quad Cities
- Buena Vista University
- Central College
- Clarke University
- Coe College
- Cornell College
- Des Moines Area Community College
- Divine Word College
- Dordt College
- Drake University
- Eastern Iowa Community College District
- Ellsworth Community College
- Emmaus Bible College
- Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary
- Graceland University Lamoni
- Grand View University
- Grinnell College
- Hamilton Technical College
- Hawkeye Community College
- Indian Hills Community College
- Iowa Central Community College
- Iowa Lakes Community College
- Iowa State University
- Iowa Wesleyan College
- Iowa Western Community College
- ITT Technical Institute Cedar Rapids
- ITT Technical Institute Clive
- Kaplan University Cedar Falls Campus
- Kaplan University Cedar Rapids Campus
- Kaplan University Council Bluffs Campus
- Kaplan University Davenport Campus
- Kaplan University Des Moines Campus
- Kaplan University Mason City Campus
- Kirkwood Community College
- Loras College
- Luther College
- Maharishi University of Management
- Marshalltown Community College
- Mercy College of Health Sciences
- Morningside College
- Mount Mercy University
- North Iowa Area Community College
- Northeast Iowa Community College Calmar
- Northwest Iowa Community College
- Northwestern College
- Palmer College of Chiropractic Davenport
- Saint Ambrose University
- Simpson College
- Southeastern Community College
- Southwestern Community College
- St Luke's College
- University of Dubuque
- University of Iowa
- University of Northern Iowa
- University of Phoenix Des Moines Campus
- Upper Iowa University
- Vatterott College Des Moines
- Waldorf College
- Wartburg College
- Western Iowa Tech Community College
- William Penn University
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 and educational consultant to students facing disciplinary cases in Iowa and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.