There are now 25 colleges and universities in South Dakota with an annual student enrollment of approximately 30,000. The U.S. Department of Education established Title IX in 1972 requiring schools to maintain compliance to remain eligible for federal education funds. Title IX is a federal civil rights law that requiring schools to develop written policies and procedures for responding to allegations of sexual discrimination.
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) serves as a source of guidance and is responsible for enforcement. Individual institutions have some freedom in drafting their sexual misconduct procedures; however, there tend to be many similarities. Title IX seeks to prevent anyone from being excluded or denied entry or access to any programs, activities, or benefits based on their gender or sexual orientation.
Title IX Investigation
Potential violations of Title IX include sexually-based harassment, assault, and other forms of discrimination. Upon receiving a complaint, the institution must promptly investigate. The investigation process may involve interviewing witnesses and reviewing other evidence. Those facing allegations (respondents) are to be afforded a reasonable time to respond.
All parties may be summoned to a hearing. Hearings are not intended to resemble formal legal proceedings. The administration is required to ensure the disciplinary process is conducted fairly and is free of any conflicts of interest. All parties are typically permitted to choose an advisor that acts in a supportive role.
Burden of Proof
The evidentiary standards used are either “by a preponderance of the evidence” or “clear and convincing evidence.” Both are a lesser standard than “beyond a reasonable doubt” used in criminal cases. The Title IX Coordinator, another administrator or a hearing panel may ultimately be responsible for making a ruling.
Penalties that may be imposed are to be contained in the school's written procedures that should be easily accessible to all students. Students found to have committed violations may encounter potentially harsh consequences. These often include being suspended or expelled from the institution.
Although not a requirement, the majority of schools do have an appeals process. These provisions often require that the appeal be filed within a very short window of time.
LGBTQ Student Respondents
Roughly 10% of undergraduate students in the U.S. now identify as being LGBTQ. Educational administrators today are increasingly overworked and may move with haste without properly considering the rights of the accused. Those in the LGBTQ community that face allegations of violating Title IX are encouraged to seek the assistance of an attorney that is experienced in these matters.
How Can an Attorney Assist as an Advisor?
- Making sure your rights are protected in this disciplinary process
- Preparing you to issue effective statements
- Ensuring that you can confidently answer questions that you are likely to encounter
An experienced attorney will know what is at stake and what potential missteps must be avoided in such proceedings be it during the investigation, if a hearing is convened, and if an appeal becomes necessary.
Experienced Advisor for Title IX Actions in South Dakota Schools
The federal guidelines associated with Title IX have been transitioning in recent years. This is common when a new federal administration enters. The Lento Law Firm has many years of experience in effectively representing students in South Dakota in these and other disciplinary matters in educational institutions. You are encouraged to contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.
South Dakota colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your gay or lesbian student's Title IX advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Augustana College
- Black Hills State University
- Colorado Technical University Sioux Falls
- Dakota State University
- Dakota Wesleyan University
- Globe University Sioux Falls
- Kilian Community College
- Lake Area Technical Institute
- Mitchell Technical Institute
- Mount Marty College
- National American University Ellsworth AFB Extension
- National American University Rapid City
- National American University Sioux Falls
- Northern State University
- Oglala Lakota College
- Presentation College
- Sinte Gleska University
- Sisseton Wahpeton College
- South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
- South Dakota State University
- Southeast Technical Institute
- University of Sioux Falls
- University of South Dakota
- Western Dakota Technical Institute
Approximately 10% of college students in the United States identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, or questioning according to studies and LGBTQ+ students should not feel alone when accused of sexual misconduct. As importantly, they should they not face such burdens alone or without the necessary support and guidance.
The reason LGBTQ+ students should not go through the Title IX process alone is because, as with all students accused of sexual misconduct, Title IX allegations and charges can change an accused student's life if not defended against properly and as early as possible during the disciplinary process. It is critical to have a dedicated and experienced advocate when facing a challenge in life and Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience passionately fighting for the future of LGBTQ+ students 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 New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York and serves as a Title IX advisor to students facing Title IX and disciplinary cases in South Dakota 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.