Employees at colleges and universities accused of Title IX violations will begin one of the most stressful situations of their careers. Given that an institution's federal funding is linked to its Title IX obligations, schools are compelled to act quickly in managing misconduct and levying severe sanctions. If you're a college employee accused of Title IX misconduct in Delaware, it's vital that you take the situation with the significance it deserves.
The investigative and hearing processes addressing Title IX allegations are burdensome on college employees. Nevertheless, they have the right to choose an advisor to assist them with their defense. That advisor can be—and should be—a professional Title IX advisor with the experiential knowledge that can protect your reputation and future.
How Does Title IX Work?
In 1972, Congress passed legislation establishing Title IX prohibiting sex and gender-based discrimination in education programs or activities receiving federal funding. The law remains the primary method by which institutions of higher education discipline sexual misconduct allegations and other behavior under federal purview. New Title IX regulations also cover:
- Dating/Domestic violence
- Failure to report Title IX misconduct
- Providing false information to Title IX personnel
- Sexual assault, discrimination, and exploitation
While Title IX applies to K-12 schools and institutions of higher education, the federal guidelines also manage violations that may occur in a vast spectrum of training programs and workshops. Delaware college instructors, coaches, faculty, and staff are often part of community events and activities that rely on their expertise and training. Even though they are not working at their school or college-sponsored event, Title IX will still apply to them engaging in activities such as:
- Community gardening workshops funded by the Department of Agriculture
- Little League sports teams supervised by local parks and recreations departments receiving funding from the Department of the Interior
- Vocational courses in Delaware prisons and jails operating with money given by the Department of Justice (DOJ)
Title IX Restructuring
The Title IX grievance process is structured to provide both parties in the matter the opportunity to make their case heard and defend themselves against false accusations. However, Trump-era enforcement guidelines like in-person formal hearings, official reporting channels, cross-examination, and having a professional advisor present with you during the hearing are scheduled to be rolled back by the Biden Administration.
Additionally, the DOJ has included language in the law to "fully enforce civil rights laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation," according to a White House press release.
Title IX Reporting Requirements for Delaware College Employees
Institutions of higher education have mandatory reporting requirements for most employees under Title IX. Some faculty, staff, and student employees may be designated by their institution to be official reporting resources, also known as "responsible employees" under the Clery Act. While reporting requirements vary from school to school, all information regarding obligations will be found in a school's employee or faculty handbook or student code of conduct.
Exemptions to the rule exist as some employees are not considered mandated reporters but are "confidential resources." Typically, these include university counselors, pastors, and student health providers.
According to the Delaware State University's Title IX office, those employed by the college designated as responsible employees include:
- All faculty
- All staff with supervisory duties over employees and/or students
- Part-time student employees, including those within administrative offices, training and athletics, resident advisors, and student government members
Although colleges and universities may differ slightly on whom they designate mandated reporters, an employee will be given the necessary training materials as a part of their onboarding process. Therefore, ignorance will not be a defense against Title IX allegations.
How Does the Title IX Grievance Process Work?
Once an alleged violation is reported to the school's Title IX Coordinator, the institution will have "actual knowledge" of the incident, thus triggering the grievance process. While schools and programs differ in timeframes allotted for phases of the process—notices of investigations and hearings, response to evidence, appeals—most proceed similarly.
At Wilmington University, the investigation phase proceeds as follows:
- The Title IX Coordinator contacts the accuser (Complainant) to discuss the allegations.
- The Title IX Coordinator informs the accused (Respondent) about the allegations and explains their rights, including the right to be presumed "not responsible" and to choose an advisor.
- An Investigator(s) will gather evidence and interview the Complainant, Respondent, and witnesses involved.
The Title IX Coordinator will send the final investigative report to each party with ten business days to submit a written response. Any responses will be provided to the Decision-Maker at least three business days before the hearing.
The hearing phase will proceed as follows:
- The Complainant and Respondent will have the opportunity to make an opening statement.
- The Decision-Maker(s) will permit each party's advisor to cross-examine the other party and witnesses.
- The Complainant and Respondent may make closing remarks.
- The Decision-Maker(s) will base their determination of responsibility on the "preponderance of the evidence," which means greater than 50 percent convinced.
Within five business days of the hearing, the Decision-Maker will send both parties a written response regarding the hearing conclusions, a statement and rationale for the result of each allegation, and imposed sanctions.
Title IX Consequences for Delaware College Employees
Punishes are severe if a college employee is found responsible for Title IX misconduct. Wilmington University details its sanctions as:
- Disciplinary probation with or without loss of designated privileges for a specified period
- Mandatory training
- No contact directive
- Mandated attendance in educational program or referral to another provider
- Written or verbal warning
- Dismissal-Separation from employment
Consequences will follow a college employee long after the school's disciplinary process ends. For example, Title IX violators will have the offense detailed on their employee records, causing challenges for them to be hired by another school.
Sanctions also interfere with obtaining federal financial aid and make some ineligible for professional licenses and jobs. Yet, there are options for the accused to redress the situation.
Appeals Procedure for Title IX Violations
Generally, there are a limited number of situations that fulfill appeal requirements. Delaware State University explains that disciplinary decisions may be appealed if the following criteria are met:
- Appropriateness of the penalty: Sanctions can be proven excessive based on the findings of the allegations and the determination of responsibility.
- New evidence: Evidence emerges that will significantly impact the outcome.
- Due Process: The adjudicatory process lacked procedural conformity, or there was a conflict of interest.
How Can a Title IX Advisor Help?
Title IX misconduct will undoubtedly endanger your future in education. If you're accused, you must defend yourself in a fast-paced process with complex procedures.
Title IX advisor Joseph D. Lento understands the fluctuations in federal Title IX law. He built his career advising and defending college employees from harsh misconduct allegations in Delaware and across the country. His dedicated team at the Lento Law Firm knows how the administrative process works and can negotiate fair settlements for college employees to continue their work. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or through its online consultation form.