A Texas school district has steered a wild course in Title IX law over the past couple of years. Their decision to move in the newest direction, though, might be based on a common misreading of sexual misconduct statistics in the district.
Palo Alto School District's Wild Title IX Past
The Palo Alto School District in Texas was put through a crash course in institutional Title IX when one of its student-athletes, who had been convicted for a sexual assault the year earlier, was accused of another sexual assault, this time on school property. When news got out of the second sexual assault, parents were upset that the student was still being allowed to go to school. When they heard of the earlier conviction, they were outraged.
The student ended up dropping out. Parents demanded administrative changes at the school district, but only got an independent investigation into the district's handling of the situation.
That independent investigation turned into a federal one, which found repeated violations of Title IX law and policy.
One of those violations was a straightforward one: There was no Title IX coordinator in the district.
Part of the school district's response was to hire one, as well as an investigator.
District Charts New Path, Citing Fewer Title IX Claims
Barely 18 months later, though, the school district made its Title IX coordinator position a part time role as it restructures the Title IX office.
The change comes as a surprise after the recent turmoil. However, district officials claim that the move was due to the sharply decreasing Title IX claims and other violations made in the district. Two years ago, that number was 210. Last year, it had only been 134, including 85 alleged Title IX violations.
The Problem With Only Looking at the Numbers
If the Palo Alto School District's decision was solely made based on the lower number of Title IX claims in the district, then it may want to reconsider. Simply counting the number of Title IX claims a school has had to handle and comparing them with numbers from prior years is a terrible way to gauge success. There are simply too many factors surrounding how many people file Title IX reports, from how friendly the Title IX investigators are, to the presence of other contemporaneous allegations – one prominent claim of sexual misconduct often spawns piggyback claims against the same person.
Title IX Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento
Joseph D. Lento is a Title IX defense lawyer and a national Title IX advisor. He works to advocate on the behalf of students and other professionals who have been accused of violating Title IX in school. The informality and lack of due process in the Title IX process make defending against allegations of sexual misconduct very difficult. Worse, many cases boil down to “he said, she said” arguments. Presenting evidence that your side of the story is the right one can take the skills of a lawyer, like Joseph D. Lento.
Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686.