Mediation is a common practice in civil courts of law throughout the country. It is a form of alternative dispute resolution that allows parties to sit down and come to an agreement in a non-confrontational way. Often, mediation allows these parties to avoid long drawn-out litigation by helping them see eye to eye.
Mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution proceedings have successfully been used in some disciplinary settings. It is especially attractive for students that would prefer to avoid a lengthy, drawn-out hearing process. However, previous guidance discouraged – and in some cases, banned – the use of mediation in the Title IX process.
A change in the rules propagated by the Department of Education has resulted in the lifting of this so-called “soft ban.” Now, schools are free to make mediation a part of their disciplinary process if they choose.
The “Soft Ban” On Mediation
During the Obama era, Department of Education guidelines did not entirely ban the use of mediation. However, it strongly discouraged it under any circumstances and outlawed it in others.
The intention of the Obama-era regulations were to avoid unnecessary face-to-face confrontation between the individuals involved in a sexual assault claim. Unfortunately, these regulations ignored the reality of how these cases are often resolved. When discrimination cases lead to a lawsuit, it is common for the parties to resolve it through the use of court-ordered mediation. Allowing mediation earlier in the process could be a beneficial option in some cases.
Changes to the Rules
Under the new Title IX rules, mediation is again an option in certain cases. Keep in mind that while mediation may be used in conflicts involving two students, the new rules do not allow mediation in cases involving staff and students.
Mediation is more likely to be of use in lower-level cases of harassment. According to some research, the process is more useful in these cases compared to allegations of violence.
The important thing to remember is that you cannot be compelled into mediation during a disciplinary hearing. Likewise, you are not guaranteed the right to mediation if the other party does not consent. It remains to be seen how many universities will incorporate the mediation process into their Title IX compliance to begin with.
Let Experienced Student Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento Advise you
If mediation is an option in your situation, it is vital you speak with legal counsel before agreeing to anything. No two cases are exactly alike, and mediation will not always be favorable to you. By letting an attorney review your case and serve as your advocate, you are more likely to make the right decision when facing the option of mediating your case.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a strong advocate for the rights of students. He is prepared to advise you on all matters related to misconduct allegations on campus and has a track record of success in these cases. Contact Joseph D. Lento online or call 888-535-3686 today to discuss your defense options.