The U.S. Army originally established the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program within the provisions of the National Defense Act of 1916. Across the U.S., approximately 1,700 post-secondary institutions now have ROTC programs for the various branches of the military. Students who commit to enter the programs must comply with a host of documented rules and requirements of both their school and the military.
Allegations of violating the federal Title IX guidelines related to sexually-based discrimination can be serious. If the allegations against a student are proven, the penalties generally include either suspension or dismissal. ROTC students may additionally be subject to disenrollment from their program for a breach of contract. With such significant potential consequences, students faced with allegations are strongly encouraged to retain an attorney that is well-versed in this specific realm of legal practice.
What is Title IX?
In 1972, the U.S. Department of Education implemented Title IX, which required that all schools establish and maintain written guidelines related to handling accusations of sexually-based discrimination. Schools that do not comply may risk losing eligibility for federal education funding. Schools must designate a Title IX Coordinator that is responsible for investigating, making rulings, and potentially imposing sanctions and penalties.
Violations of Title IX may occur in various ways. One primary example is when someone is excluded from participation or denied benefits based on their gender or sexual identity. Title IX also prohibits acts of sexual harassment such as those that promote false stereotypes or involve unwanted sexual advances. Harassment may escalate to violence such as in incidents including sexual assault.
Investigative Process and Standards of Evidence
Most schools conduct a hearing where all parties can issue statements and hear witness testimony. Accused students may retain legal counsel to accompany them to all proceedings in an advisory role. The alleged violations are typically evaluated using a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. Recently, Title IX guidelines were expanded to allow schools to opt to use a “clear and convincing” evidentiary standard.
When allegations of violating Title IX guidelines are proven against an ROTC student, they are likely to be subject to the disenrollment process. U.S. Code §2005 outlines the potential adverse penalties including the following:
- Eligibility for receiving an officer commission may be revoked
- They may be ordered to repay the government for financial benefits received such as tuition and scholarships
- They may be ordered to complete “active enlisted service” in their branch of the military
Benefits of an Experienced Student Rights Attorney
Having legal representation is a tremendous asset in your preparation. You must be well-prepared to confidently issue statements and effectively respond to questions. He or she will independently review the strength of the evidence to potentially identify weaknesses or inconsistencies and ensure you are afforded due process.
Title IX Attorney for ROTC Students Facing Disenrollment Proceedings
When ROTC students are the subject of disciplinary actions, they may have their long-term plans abruptly shattered. Joseph D. Lento is an established student rights attorney that will aggressively protect your rights and seek a positive outcome. Contact his office today at (888) 535-3686 for assistance.
Mississippi colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your ROTC student's Title IX advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools (schools in bold have Army, Navy, and/or Air Force ROTC programs or are affiliated with schools where students can take ROTC classes):
- Alcorn State University
- Antonelli College Hattiesburg
- Antonelli College Jackson
- Belhaven University
- Blue Cliff College Gulfport
- Blue Mountain College
- Coahoma Community College
- Copiah Lincoln Community College
- Delta State University
- East Central Community College
- East Mississippi Community College
- Hinds Community College
- Holmes Community College
- Itawamba Community College
- ITT Technical Institute Madison
- Jackson State University
- Jones County Junior College
- Meridian Community College
- Miller Motte Technical College Gulfport
- Millsaps College
- Mississippi College
- Mississippi Delta Community College
- Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
- Mississippi State University
- Mississippi University for Women
- Mississippi Valley State University
- Northeast Mississippi Community College
- Northwest Mississippi Community College
- Pearl River Community College
- Rust College
- Southeastern Baptist College
- Southwest Mississippi Community College
- Tougaloo College
- University of Mississippi
- University of Phoenix Jackson Campus
- University of Southern Mississippi
- Virginia College Biloxi
- William Carey University
All students must be extremely mindful when accused of sexual misconduct at their college or university; ROTC students in particular, however, can have even more concerns at all stage of Title IX proceedings because the stakes are higher yet – When first contacted by their school's Title IX office, when a sexual misconduct investigation begins, when facing a hearing or an appeal or when seeking further recourse by filing a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights when necessary. For ROTC students who are facing a Title IX case and their families, it is critical to take the necessary precautions as soon as possible, including having an experienced attorney advisor, when accused of sexual misconduct. Unfortunately, some students, not being as familiar what is at stake and also their rights in the process, will mistakenly believe that if they "just explain what happened," everything will work out. Title IX cases can be won, but students and their families must recognize, however, that achieving a favorable in a Title IX case requires a dedicated and intensive approach best handled by a professional who has a track record of successes in the Title IX disciplinary arena.
Fighting passionately for the future of students at colleges and universities throughout the nation for over a decade, Joseph D. Lento knows how important it is to mount the strongest defense because he understands that an ROTC student's academic future and future commission and military career is at stake. 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, New Jersey, and New York, 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 sexual misconduct investigations, disenrollment proceedings,and disciplinary cases in Mississippi and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.