Title IX Advisor – South Dakota College Employees

When college and university employees are accused of Title IX violations at South Dakota institutions, they experience one of the most stressful situations of their careers. Title IX infractions are managed by stricter procedures than research misconduct or behavioral issues, given the process' supervision by the federal government through funding streams. Schools are compelled to act quickly and punish harshly, and if you're a South Dakota college employee, you must take the situation seriously.

The grievance process addressing Title IX allegations can be intimidating and confusing. However, you have the right to choose an experienced advisor to assist you throughout the investigative, hearing, and appeals processes. That advisor can be—and should be—a proven Title IX advisor that can protect your reputation and career.

How Does Title IX Work?

Congress passed Title IX civil rights legislation in 1972 prohibiting sex and gender-based discrimination in educational programs and activities receiving federal funds. The regulation remains the principal method by which K-12 schools and institutions of higher education discipline sexual misconduct. Title IX regulations also cover:

  • Bullying
  • Coercion
  • Dating/Domestic violence
  • False Title IX report
  • Hazing
  • Stalking
  • Sexual assault, discrimination, and exploitation
  • Withholding Title IX evidence or information

Although Title IX's federal reach applies to traditional education settings, the law also manages violations in public workshops and training programs. South Dakota college instructors, coaches, faculty, and staff are often hired for their expertise to assist in community events and activities. Even though they may not be sanctioned school or college-sponsored events, Title IX will still apply to activities such as:

  • Boater safety courses subsidized by the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Local gardening workshops funded by the Department of Agriculture
  • Sports teams and activities managed by localities receiving funding from the Department of the Interior

Title IX Restructuring

Title IX formal hearing procedures are designed to provide both parties in the matter an opportunity to defend themselves and ensure their accounts are heard. However, Trump-era enforcement guidelines like cross-examination, in-person formal hearings, official reporting channels, and the ability to have an outside advisor are scheduled to be rolled back by the Biden Administration.

Furthermore, the Department of Justice has restructured the language of Title IX to "fully enforce civil rights laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation," according to a press release from the White House.

Title IX Reporting Requirements for South Dakota College Employees

South Dakota's institutions of higher education—like elsewhere—have reporting obligations for most employees under Title IX. Specific schools may designate some faculty, staff, and student employees as official reporting resources, known by the Clery Act as "responsible employees." While these vary by school, information regarding an employee's obligations will be found in a school's employee or faculty handbook or student code of conduct.

There are few exemptions to the rule, as some employees are considered "confidential resources," with a responsibility to student privacy. Typically, confidential resources include university counselors, pastors, and student health providers. Nevertheless, it's compulsory for college employees with the authority to take corrective action to report allegations to the school's Title IX Coordinator.

According to South Dakota State University, responsible employees include:

  • Deans, department heads, and instructors (part-time and full-time)
  • Staff with managerial duties over employees or students
  • Student employees and those in leadership positions, including resident advisors, athletics volunteers, and student government members

How Does the Title IX Grievance Process Work?

Once an allegation is reported to the school's Title IX Coordinator, the institution will have "actual knowledge" of the incident and triggers the grievance process. While schools and programs have different timeframes for process phases—notices of investigations and hearings, response to evidence, appeals—most proceed equally.

At Dakota State University, the investigation phase proceeds as follows:

  1. The Title IX Coordinator contacts the complainant (accuser) to discuss the allegations and offer supportive measures.
  2. Within five business days of receiving the formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator informs the respondent (accused) about the allegations and explains their rights, including the right to choose an advisor.
  3. An investigator is assigned to gather evidence on the incident by interviewing the complainant, respondent, and witnesses involved. Although some schools don't detail a specific timeframe for investigations, most institutions often strive to finish in as little as one week or ten days.
  4. The Title IX Coordinator will send the final investigative report to each party within ten business days for the chance to submit a written response.

The hearing phase will proceed as follows:

  1. The institution will notify each party of a formal hearing at least 15 days prior.
  2. The complainant and respondent will have the opportunity to make an opening statement.
  3. The hearing examiner will permit each party or advisor to cross-examine the other party and witnesses.
  4. The hearing examiner may initiate a series of questioning.
  5. The complainant and respondent make closing remarks.

Afterward, the hearing examiner will determine responsibility via a "preponderance of the evidence." Both parties and their advisor will be sent a written response regarding the hearing conclusions, a statement, and rationale for the result of each allegation, and imposed sanctions in a "timely" manner, which is typically 48 hours or less.

Title IX Consequences for South Dakota College Employees

Punishments are severe if a college employee is found responsible for Title IX misconduct. Black Hills State University details its sanctions as:

  • Loss of privileges
  • Loss of research funding
  • Mandatory training
  • No-contact directives
  • Demotion
  • Non-renewal of a contract or non-reappointment
  • Dismissal

Consequences from Title IX misconduct will follow a college employee long after the process ends. For instance, Title IX violators will have the offense detailed on their official employee records, making it challenging to gain employment elsewhere in academia.

Reprimands also restrict federal financial aid and make some barred from seeking professional licenses and jobs. The severity of sanctions may overwhelm a college employee, but there are opportunities to defend yourself further.

Appeals Procedure for Title IX Violations

The University of South Dakota details that parties may appeal the institution's decision within ten business days of the conclusion. There are a limited number of situations that fulfill appeal requirements, including:

  1. Procedural irregularities affected the outcome of the hearing.
  2. New evidence emerges that will significantly impact the outcome.
  3. The hearing lacked due process, or there was a conflict of interest.

How Can a Title IX Advisor Help?

Title IX misconduct will jeopardize your future in education. Defending yourself is intimidating in a fast-paced process among complex, fluctuating procedures.

Title IX advisor Joseph D. Lento understands the nuances of federal Title IX law. He built his career advising and defending college employees from harsh misconduct allegations in South Dakota and across the country. His dedicated team at the Lento Law Firm knows how the Title IX 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.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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