Is your child facing accusations of sexual assault? If so, you might be scrambling to teach yourself about due process, likely punishments, the best way to protect your family, and more. Student discipline and sexual misconduct investigations are draining and overwhelming. It is vital that you seek support during this time.
Sexual assault is a serious matter, and schools need to treat it as such. However, your school may focus on protecting the accuser in a sexual misconduct scenario so much that they steamroll right over the rights of the accused. If your student faces unwarranted allegations, it can be very easy for your school to mistreat your student.
In this case, it might be up to you to protect your student's rights. Securing competent legal aid early on may be your best bet.
Rhode Island High Schools and Sexual Assault
It can be easy to believe that your child won't have to go through this. Many children don't. You may hope that your high school is small or remote enough that you won't have to deal with Title IX, sexual misconduct, or student discipline proceedings.
Unfortunately, assault and other examples of misconduct can happen anywhere. According to a national news outlet, one recent case in Providence detailed a sordid scenario where an RI high school student coerced another into “undressing in front of a live online camera.” In another, a student faced charges for sexually assaulting one of his Rhode Island high school teachers.
Clearly, sexual misconduct can happen anywhere. This means that any person, including your student, may face allegations of sexual misconduct - regardless of their truth.
Your School's Grievance Processes
Rhode Island legislature defines sexual harassment, on a statewide level, as “any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or any other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature,” particularly when these types of activities would directly interfere with either student's academic experience. Every school district must write and maintain their own specific code of conduct detailing what happens after an allegation of sexual misconduct.
To learn what to expect at your school, you need to become familiar with your school's code of conduct (or student handbook). Looking at processes in other RI schools may give you an idea of what may lie ahead. This RI high school's code of conduct indicates that you might expect the following:
- After the accuser files an official accusation with your school's Title IX Coordinator, the coordinator will alert your school's superintendent or principal.
- The principal will ensure that all school staff who interact with all of the concerned students have preliminary information about the case. The school will then begin to gather as much information as is possible regarding both the accuser and the accused.
- At this point, the school will formally notify both the accused student and the accuser about their involvement in an ongoing sexual misconduct investigation. Your school must include information about the school's specific investigative procedures, and notify the accused student that they can enlist legal aid.
- After this, your school will invite all involved parties and their representation to a meeting. During this meeting, the school's investigators will go over all evidence. At the end, the school will decide on further action. This may include a formal hearing, or may be a plan for restorative justice for one or both involved parties.
- The school will send a written notice of its final decision. The accused student has a short time, typically five business days, to appeal that decision. Otherwise, the accused may face the punitive measures the school has suggested.
The Rhode Island ACLU notes that your high school student has protected rights in a student discipline investigation. If your school does not treat your student fairly, you may have recourse to help your student achieve a more favorable outcome. Working with an experienced legal advisor may help you protect your student's future.
What's at Stake for Your RI High School Student?
You have likely sent your child to a Rhode Island high school in the hopes that they will have an enjoyable education. More than that, you hope that your child will have what they need to go to a good college and ultimately start a career.
If your child stands accused of sexual misconduct and that information makes it to their permanent discipline record, it may become tough for your child to achieve either of these goals.
The specific consequences your child may face after a sexual misconduct investigation vary from school to school. RIDE, the Rhode Island Department of Education, states that all educators aim to “reduce the need for disciplinary actions.” At the same time, punitive measures for alleged sexual misconduct are often severe.
Some common consequences for sexual misconduct, such as in-school suspensions or reductions of privileges, can make your child's day-to-day more difficult. Others, such as an outright dismissal or referral to external law enforcement, could completely destroy your child's bright future. If your child faces these punishments due to an unwarranted allegation, that is entirely unfair for your child.
Protecting your child's future by working with an experienced legal advisor is a good idea. Doing so may represent your best chance of a favorable outcome.
Joseph D. Lento is Ready to Fight for Your Child
When your family faces Title IX or code of conduct investigations, you need as much experienced support as you can get. Work with student discipline and Title IX advisor Joseph D. Lento, and you find that skilled support. For years, Joseph D. Lento has fundamentally handled hundreds of student discipline cases, both under Title IX and under similar sexual misconduct laws. Whether your student's case awaits the investigative process or adjudication by a hearing, Joseph D. Lento will work hard to guide you to a favorable result. For Rhode Island Title IX cases, contact the Lento Law Firm today by calling 888-535-3686 today, or fill out our brief online form to learn more.
Rhode Island 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:
- Barrington School District
- Bristol Warren Regional School District
- Burrillville School District
- Central Falls School District
- Chariho Regional School District
- Coventry School District
- Cranston Public Schools
- Cumberland School District
- East Greenwich School District
- East Providence School District
- Exeter-West Greenwich Regional School District
- Foster Elementary School District
- Foster-Glocester Regional School District
- Glocester School District
- Jamestown School District
- Johnston School District
- Lincoln School District
- Little Compton School District
- Middletown School District
- Narragansett School District
- New Shoreham School District
- Newport School District
- North Kingstown School District
- North Providence School District
- North Smithfield School District
- Pawtucket School District
- Portsmouth School District
- Providence Public Schools
- Scituate School District
- Smithfield School District
- South Kingstown School District
- Tiverton School District
- Warwick Public Schools
- West Warwick School District
- Westerly School District
- Woonsocket School District
It is critical to make certain the Title IX investigation at your child's Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island 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.