Parents, Students Want Protection From Sexual Assaults: What About the Rights of the Accused?
High school students and their parents in Loudoun County, Virginia, want to know why they weren't told earlier about two sexual assault incidents at two different schools in the district.
In May, a student was charged with forcible sodomy. The court put him on electronic monitoring. In October, the same student was charged with sexual battery and abduction of a fellow student. He was transferred to another high school.
Demanding the county protect students from sexual assault, hundreds of students staged 10-minute walkouts to protest the Loudoun County school board's handling of the incidents.
At an October school board meeting, parents demanded more transparency regarding what and when the school board and superintendent knew about the sexual assault cases.
They also want accused children immediately removed from school before any type of investigation even begins. Some of those accused may later be found responsible for the assault, but what about those who were falsely accused? How will they be affected in the short- and long-term?
Sexual Assault is a Title IX Violation
Title IX of Public Law 92-318 of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits schools that receive federal funding from discriminating against students on the basis of gender. It also prohibits sexual harassment and sexual violence, both of which are considered forms of gender discrimination. Title IX is applicable to students in K-12 and colleges.
Has Title IX Changed?
Title IX is a law that can't be changed; however, enforcement guidelines can be. New rules were put in place in 2020, directing schools to presume those accused of sexual misconduct are innocent prior to the investigative and decision-making process.
Parents and students in Loudoun County would like to swing the pendulum back to increase protections for students, and the School Board has proposed changes to Title IX.
Title IX Process
The procedure for administering and responding to Title IX-related incidents involves five steps:
- Receipt of a Title IX complaint/report
- Right to appeal
Even before the school has launched its investigation, the accused student may find themselves on the receiving end of:
- a temporary protection order (personal protection order) or no-contact order
- modification of living arrangements
- interim suspension from campus pending a hearing
- suspension from playing NCAA sports
- termination of campus employment
- relocation of, or being banned from, student housing
- restrictions on classes and class schedules
- being restricted from eating at the dining hall at times the complainant is present
If you are found responsible for the Title IX violation, it will remain on your academic record, causing damage to your educational and professional careers for years to come.
If you are found not to be responsible, you would think the whole thing would be wiped from your academic record. This is not necessarily the case.
What about the emotional, social, and psychological consequences? Your reputation and self-esteem may have been damaged beyond repair.
Let Attorney Joseph D. Lento Negotiate With the School on Your Behalf
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has many years of experience with Title IX cases, and he can assist you with all school-related issues and concerns. Don't face this stressful situation alone—contact Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686 or complete our online form to discuss your case.