Sexual assault is devastating. You've likely entrusted your local high school with your student's care and training for years. You don't want your student to have to undergo an incident as traumatizing as sexual assault. Your school seeks to protect your child, and to ensure that this does not happen.
One of the protective mechanisms your school has in place for your student is Title IX.
Title IX is a federal civil rights law that the government enacted as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX promises to protect your child from sexual harassment and sexual assault while your student attends a public school. All schools that receive federal funding, under Title IX, must investigate all allegations of sexual misconduct immediately. If they don't, they risk losing their funding.
Unfortunately, this provides significant incentive for your New Mexico high school to handle sexual misconduct investigations aggressively. This does not always translate to fair treatment of the accused. If your student faces Title IX processes, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Title IX or code of conduct advisor as soon as possible.
School Violence in New Mexico: Do Title IX Cases Really Happen?
It's easy to look at your child and hope that they never have to experience sexual misconduct. After all, it's a triggering and traumatizing concept - and it can feel abstract and removed from your specific community.
A quick glance through local news proves that high school assault happens everywhere. In Albuquerque, a student with Down's Syndrome faced arrest and criminal charges after an alleged incident with a classmate. Another teen faced charges after an alleged attempt to commit murder. Even though it may be easier to believe these aren't events that may impact your child, reality states otherwise.
It's best to prepare yourself for the worst. Learning more about your child's rights in the event of a student discipline or sexual misconduct investigation may help your family avoid unwarranted consequences.
Holding Your NM School Accountable to Your Child
While it's very possible for your New Mexico school to ignore your child's rights during a Title IX investigation, your child does have rights. In your school's code of conduct, your school should itemize the specific procedures involved in sexual misconduct proceedings.
Every state and school district writes and maintains their own grievance procedures, which means that you need to educate yourself on your student's specific rights.
There is a common framework and usual due process rights accorded to those accused of sexual misconduct. According to this New Mexico school's code of conduct, your high school can violate your child's rights by:
- Failing to notify the accused of their specific alleged offense
- Failing to give all concerned parties the investigative report
- Failing to ensure an unbiased panel of adjudicators
- Failing to allow written questions from all parties during the investigative process
- Failing to allow the accused to make an appeal of any decisions
Under Title IX, your NM public high school must investigate all allegations of sexual misconduct. This does not mean that your school has the experiences or resources to do so properly. A lack of time and incentive for a fair investigation might place your child in a poor position for success.
In this situation, it is vital that you speak with an experienced Title IX or code of conduct advisor. They will be able to guide you through the investigative process, help you prepare for a hearing, and ultimately work to keep your New Mexico school accountable to your child's rights.
The Definition of Sexual Harassment and Assault
You may be wondering what specific actions your school can punish under Title IX. This is a good question: Sexual misconduct can represent a wide range of actions. Your school should itemize the actions considered punishable in its posted code of conduct.
The New Mexico Department of Health published a report on sexual violence that may serve as a general definition. In it, they defined sexual assault as:
- Any sexual action imposted on another, without consent, through force, intimidation, humiliation, or coercion
- Taking advantage of a lack of ability to consent
- Unwanted touching
- Sexual harassment
- Threats of sexual violence
- Sexual abuse
As you can see, this is a wide range of actions. Some of these can also be vague and up for interpretation. When your child's future is at stake, this lack of specificity can present a large problem.
Your School's Code of Conduct and Potential Consequences
What is at stake? After an accusation of sexual misconduct, your child's reputation at school, at the very least, may plummet. There are more severe punishments that may make your child's future more difficult than it needs to be.
Your school's code of conduct will itemize the specific consequences on the table. This school's posted code of conduct may illustrate some common punishments your child may face:
- Student/parent conference
- In-school suspension (ISS)
- Out-of-school suspension (OSS)
- Recommendation for expulsion
- Probationary enrollment
- Work detail
- SRO/Police referral
- Truancy Court
- Positive behavior referral
After you've invested so much into your child's education, it would be devastating to have a false accusation of sexual assault destroy their bright future. If your child faces expulsion, it may be difficult to enroll at another school—and, later, difficult to get into the college of your child's dreams.
Don't let a rushed Title IX investigation and unfair processes ruin your child's academic future. Contact a seasoned Title IX and code of contact advisor to learn more about your family's options.
A High School Title IX Attorney-Advisor Ready to Help
If your child faces Title IX investigations, you need to speak with an experienced advisor as early on in the process as possible. Joseph D. Lento has years of experience handling Title IX and student discipline cases all across the nation. If you need assistance with the investigative process for your student's case or help preparing for adjudication through a hearing, Joseph D. Lento can bring unparalleled experience and expertise to help your family. He has successfully resolved thousands of student rights cases, and is ready to help you with yours. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686, or simply contact us through our brief online form.
New Mexico high schools where Joseph D. Lento can help as your child's student's Title IX advisor during investigations, hearings and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following school districts:
- Alamogordo Public Schools
- Albuquerque Public Schools
- Animas Public Schools
- Artesia Public Schools
- Aztec Municipal Schools
- Belen Consolidated Schools
- Bernalillo Public Schools
- Bloomfield Schools
- Capitan Municipal Schools
- Carlsbad Municipal Schools
- Carrizozo Municipal Schools
- Central Consolidated Schools
- Chama Valley Schools
- Cimarron Public Schools
- Clayton Municipal Schools
- Cloudcroft Municipal Schools
- Clovis Municipal Schools
- Cobre Consolidated Schools
- Corona Public Schools
- Cuba Independent Schools
- Deming Public Schools
- Des Moines Municipal Schools
- Dexter Consolidated Schools
- Dora Consolidated Schools
- Dulce Independent Schools
- Elida Municipal Schools
- Espanola Public Schools
- Estancia Municipal Schools
- Eunice Public Schools
- Farmington Municipal Schools
- Floyd Municipal Schools
- Fort Sumner Municipal Schools
- Gadsden Independent Schools
- Gallup-McKinley County Schools
- Grady Municipal Schools
- Grants-Cibola County Schools
- Hagerman Municipal Schools
- Hatch Valley Public Schools
- Hobbs Municipal Schools
- Hondo Valley Public Schools
- House Municipal Schools
- Jal Public Schools
- Jemez Mountain Public Schools
- Jemez Valley Public Schools
- Lake Arthur Municipal Schools
- Las Cruces Public Schools
- Las Vegas City Public Schools
- Logan Municipal Schools
- Lordsburg Municipal Schools
- Los Alamos Public Schools
- Los Lunas Public Schools
- Loving Municipal Schools
- Lovington Public Schools
- Magdalena Municipal Schools
- Maxwell Municipal Schools
- Melrose Public Schools
- Mesa Vista Consolidated Schools
- Mora Independent Schools
- Moriarty Municipal Schools
- Mosquero Municipal Schools
- Mountainair Public Schools
- Pecos Independent Schools
- Peñasco Independent Schools
- Pojoaque Valley Public Schools
- Portales Municipal Schools
- Quemado Independent Schools
- Questa Independent Schools
- Raton Public Schools
- Reserve Independent Schools
- Rio Rancho Public Schools
- Roswell Independent Schools
- Roy Municipal Schools
- Ruidoso Municipal Schools
- San Jon Municipal Schools
- Santa Fe Public Schools
- Santa Rosa Consolidated Schools
- Silver Consolidated Schools
- Socorro Consolidated Schools
- Springer Municipal Schools
- Taos Municipal Schools
- Tatum Municipal Schools
- Texico Municipal Schools
- Truth or Consequences Municipal Schools
- Tucumcari Public Schools
- Tularosa Municipal Schools
- Vaughn Municipal Schools
- Wagon Mound Public Schools
- West Las Vegas Public Schools
- Zuni Public Schools
It is critical to make certain the Title IX investigation at your child's New Mexico high school is handled properly and that the accused student's interests and rights are protected from as early as possible during the sexual misconduct investigative process. One major reason is because even at high schools where a finding of responsibility for sexual misconduct charges is made at a hearing, the investigation will set the stage for what the hearing panel is provided prior to a hearing (and what the hearing panel will in large part rely on at a hearing), and at high schools where the finding of responsibility is made solely through the investigative process, what takes place during the investigation itself will determine whether the accused student is found responsible or not responsible for Title IX charges.
Unfortunately, some parents make the mistake of not taking the necessary precautions as soon as possible when accused of sexual misconduct. Some people will mistakenly believe that if they "just explain what happened," their school will be fair and impartial and will arrive at the truth. In a perfect world this may be the case, but in a perfect world, sexual misconduct allegations and Title IX charges would not exist.
Fighting passionately for the future of his clients at schools throughout the nation for many years, Joseph D. Lento knows how important it is to mount the strongest defense because he understands that an accused high school student's academic future is on the line. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, 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 attorney advisor to high school students facing sexual misconduct investigations and disciplinary cases in New Mexico and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National High School Title IX Attorney Joseph D. Lento today at 888-535-3686.