It's every parent's worst nightmare that their high school child experience sexual misconduct. After all, you've entrusted your child specifically to their school. You expected that your school would protect your child.
If your student is the one standing accused of sexual misconduct, your South Dakota high school may turn against your child quickly. Your student's high school has strong incentives to rush any sexual misconduct or Title IX proceedings. The government requires swift investigation; if your school fails to do so, it could lose its funding.
However, just because your school must investigate all claims of sexual misconduct does not mean that it has the resources to do so. Your high school's lack of experience may translate to fewer protections for your child. This is unfair.
If your child faces unwarranted sexual misconduct allegations, it may be up to you to protect your child's rights. Working with an experienced Title IX and code of conduct advisor may help guide your child's case to a more favorable outcome.
Sexual Misconduct in South Dakota High Schools: Does It Really Happen?
Perhaps you've hoped that your child's high school is too small or rural, or its students too young, to be a place where sexual misconduct happens. Unfortunately, there's no school too out-of-the-way for Title IX cases.
Recently, in one South Dakota high school, an 18-year-old student faced rape and child pornography charges for taking lewd pictures of 16-year-old females—and then using those pictures as blackmail to coerce those students into further lewd acts. In another startling case, another 18-year-old South Dakota high school student faced two separate formal rape charges in one week.
Nobody wants this to happen. Clearly, it does. These types of cases fall under Title IX and other similar sexual misconduct laws. Your school will treat these types of accusations very seriously to protect its students.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment or Assault?
Your school will make the specific guidelines they follow clear in your student's high school handbook. This South Dakota high school's posted code of conduct lists the following as examples of forbidden sexual harassment:
- Uninvited sexual favors, requests, or advances
- Unwanted or unwelcome sexual conduct (physical, visual, or verbal)
- Offensive remarks regarding the sex of another person
- Any sexual conduct that interferes with another student's education
- Sexual abuse
- Sexual assault
- Rape or attempted rape
- Inappropriate touching
- Sexual aggression
There are many different actions that your school may find punishable under Title IX. If your student faces these types of accusations, you need to be very clear on what your student's charges mean. An experienced code of conduct advisor will be able to assist you in analyzing your school's policies and will be able to advise you as to your best plan of action.
Due Process and Punitive Measures: What Can You Expect?
The Office for Civil Rights lists out the scope of Title IX as well as recommendations for academic action. It also notes that every state and school district may differ. Each school district is therefore responsible for writing and maintaining their own due process for Title IX and sexual misconduct cases.
You will find your school's procedures for student discipline in your student's handbook. The specific process may differ from district to district but will include a formal accusation, an investigative effort, and adjudication by school officials.
Your student does have very specific rights and protections under Title IX and similar sexual misconduct laws. For example, according to the High School Student Handbook for Rapid City Area Schools, students can count on the following:
- Notices from the school regarding any conduct that would result in action taken against the student
- Written notice of any rule violations
- Explanation of evidence that supports the charges against the student
- An opportunity to present the accused student's side of the story
- An opportunity to ask questions of all relevant parties during due process
- Proportionate penalties
Of course, simply because your school lists these policies out in a handbook does not mean that your school will follow them. It does make it easier to hold your school accountable for respecting your child's rights. Your legal advisor can help you keep track of your school's actions to see if there is anything you can do to help support your child's case.
Holding Your South Dakota High School Accountable to Your Child's Rights
If your family faces sexual misconduct or Title IX processes at your South Dakota high school, you might be wondering what is at stake for your student. You will need to check your school's code of conduct for specifics. Recommended disciplinary measures can vary widely. Generally speaking, your school will take corrective actions against your child that will correspond to the severity of the alleged crime.
Your school will have a list of appropriate punitive measures in your student's handbook. Typical consequences may include:
- A reduction of privileges (such as bus, parking, or access to extracurricular activities)
- A hit to your child's reputation
- A permanent entry on your student's academic or disciplinary record
- Adherence to a mandatory behavioral contract
- Referral to mandatory counseling
- Referral to external law enforcement and potential criminal charges and arrest
- In-school or out-of-school suspension
- Expulsion from your school or your entire school district
As you can see, there's a lot at stake for your student. Being proactive about your student's rights can help keep the burden of unfair punishments off your child. If you can, work with a seasoned Title IX or code of conduct lawyer to make your best possible case for your child.
An Experienced Title IX Advisor Ready to Work for You
When your child faces sexual misconduct charges, you need experience and expertise in your corner. Joseph D. Lento has fundamentally handled hundreds of student discipline cases under Title IX and code of conduct regulations. Whether your student's case faces the investigative process or adjudication via a hearing, Joseph D. Lento is ready to assist. Contact the Lento Law Firm today by calling 888-535-3686, or you can fill out our brief online form to get all the information you need.
South Dakota 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:
- Appoquinimink School District
- Academy of Dover Charter School
- Brandywine School District
- Caesar Rodney School District
- Campus Community Charter School
- Cape Henlopen School District
- Capital School District
- Charter School of Wilmington
- Christina School District
- Colonial School District
- Delmar School District
- East Side Charter School
- Family Foundations Academy
- Gateway Lab School
- Indian River School District
- Kuumba Academy Charter School
- Lake Forest School District
- Las Americas Aspira Academy
- Laurel School District
- Milford School District
- MOT Charter School
- Moyer (Maurice J.) Academy
- New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District
- Newark Charter School
- Odyssey Charter School
- Pencader Business and Finance Charter High School
- POLYTECH School District
- Positive Outcomes Charter School
- Prestige Academy
- Providence Creek Academy Charter School
- Reach Academy for Girls
- Red Clay Consolidated School District
- Seaford School District
- Smyrna School District
- Sussex Academy Of Arts And Sciences
- Sussex Technical School District
- Thomas A. Edison Charter School
- Woodbridge School District
It is critical to make certain the Title IX investigation at your child's South Dakota 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 South Dakota 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.