Being accused of violating your school's policy, especially if these allegations involve sexual misconduct, can ruin your college experience. Not to mention ruin a number of other important things, like your ability to graduate and pursue your professional goals. This is why students who have been accused of sexual misconduct should understand their school's processes so they can level the playing field during the investigation process and during hearings. Here is a brief overview of McDaniel College's Title IX Process.
Title IX Process
Filing a complaint
During Title IX processes, there are certain terms that will be used to reference all of the parties listed in a complaint. An individual who identifies as a victim/survivor of the alleged misconduct is known as a “complainant,” while the alleged offender referred to as a “respondent.” Once a report has been filed listing these terms and detailing the alleged misconduct, the process will proceed.
When a Title IX coordinator receives word of allegations of sexual misconduct, their main concern is ensuring that a complainant is safe from retaliation. Therefore, interim measures will be put in place to separate complainants and respondents from each other throughout the course of procedures. Unfortunately, innocent people are inconvenienced for merely being accused of sexual misconduct. Respondents routinely experience the following interim measures:
- Housing reassignment accommodations
- Changes in class schedules
- A no contact order barring any communication between opposing parties
- Restrictions placed onto certain areas of campus or buildings
- A mandatory leave of absence etc.
Initial complaint assessment
Upon receipt of a report, the college will conduct an initial complaint assessment. This part of the process consists of a Title IX coordinator talking with a complainant to gain a basic understanding of the alleged misconduct. This is a time when a coordinator will assess certain factors of the incident, such as the age of a complainant, whether or not a weapon was used, the use or threat of violence, pattern evidence etc.
If a Title IX coordinator deems it appropriate for the process to continue, a formal investigation will be conducted by appointed third party investigators. Complainants, respondents and witnesses will be interviewed for the purpose of collecting more evidence and hearing each side of the story. Investigations typically last 30 business days. An investigative report containing a determination and suggestive sanction will be sent to a Title IX coordinator for review.
During a hearing both sides will have a final opportunity to make their case. Final statements, testimony and cross-examinations (in some circumstances) will ensure. Once both sides have been heard, a panel will deliberate and come up with a determination of responsibility.
If a respondent disagrees with an investigative report or sanction, he or she is allowed the opportunity to get a school to reconsider their decisions. This can only be accomplished through an appeal. An appeal must be based on reasonable grounds for it it be considered. Sole grounds for an appeal includes:
- The college deviated from its stated procedures in such a way that affected the fairness of a hearing
- The sanction(s) imposed is substantially disproportionate to the severity of a violation
- New information that was not available at the time of an investigation is now available, and could considerably affect a determination and/or sanction
An appeal must be submitted three business days after a final determination.
Title IX Advisor
Choosing an attorney to occupy the role of an advisor through your school's Title IX processes outweighs the benefits of choosing anyone else to fulfill this role. Skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped guide people in your shoes through their school's processes, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today for help.
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 to students facing disciplinary cases in Maryland and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Joseph D. Lento can help.