New Standard of Proof Options for Colleges: What That Means for Students

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Apr 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

With Obama-era Title IX guidance in the distant past, new Education Secretary Betsy Devos has implemented fresh guidelines that allow schools a newfound level of flexibility when it comes to the enforcement of Title IX. The renewed guidance is presented in the form of a question-and-answer document, giving federally funded schools substantial options as to how to address cases of sexual misconduct on campus.

Under the relatively new administration, the “Dear Colleague” letter - which put pressure on schools to respond promptly and appropriately to complaints - has also been rescinded. Devos also rid time restrictions placed upon schools to mitigate and resolve cases. Institutions formerly had a 60-day timeframe to resolve sexual misconduct complaints to fulfill the “prompt and appropriate” response expectation. Now, there is no deadline under which a school must complete a Title IX investigation.

One of the more controversial features of the interim guide is the option to choose between two standards of evidence when determining guilt: the “preponderance of evidence” standard and the “clear and convincing” standard. An apparent massive shift from the 2011 Dear Colleague letter that identified the preponderance of evidence as the current standard of proof in sexual misconduct cases.

The implications of either making the choice to keep proof policies intact in the midst of new rules, or to modify policies have put immense pressure on schools. Institutions that choose to adopt the clear and convincing standard of proof are opting to require a more rigorous standard than the preponderance of evidence. (Both of these standards are lower than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is used in criminal cases).

For due process advocates, the option to implement a higher standard of proof is a victory. They have continually asserted that that the preponderance standard is too low for the complex and circumstantial nature of sexual misconduct cases. Traditionalists, on the other hand, claim that the the standard is appropriate for school cases that may or may not constitute a crime. They also say that it will be confusing, given that it offers students different protections at different schools.

Due to these changes, you, as a student should be aware of how they affect will affect you. Knowing your school's policies will let you know what to expect, and give you leverage in a case. Check your school's handbook to gain an understanding of how your school resolves these cases, and to confirm which evidence standard is adopted in your institution's processes.

Student Defense Attorney Helping Clients Nationwide

Sexual misconduct allegations are a big deal, and should be treated as such. If you value the investment you've made into your young adult's education, retaining a student defense attorney is a must.

Joseph D. Lento has dedicated entire his career to helping students in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and nationwide who have been in this predicament prevail in hearings and overcome their charges. He can do the same for you. Contact him today for help.

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Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


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