Title IX Advisor – Vermont College Employees

When college and university employees are accused of Title IX violations at Vermont institutions, they experience one of the most stressful situations of their careers. Title IX infractions are generally 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 in addressing misconduct and levying severe sanctions, and if you're a Vermont college employee, it's vital that you take the situation with the significance it deserves.

The investigative and hearing processes handling Title IX allegations can be daunting. However, college employees have the right to choose an advisor to assist them with their defense. That advisor can be—and should be—a professional Title IX advisor with proven experience to protect your reputation and future.

How Does Title IX Work?

In 1972, Congress passed legislation establishing Title IX prohibiting sex and gender-based discrimination in education programs or activities receiving federal funding. The law remains the primary method by which schools discipline sexual misconduct allegations and other behavior under federal purview. Title IX regulations also cover:

  • Bullying
  • Coercion
  • Dating/Domestic violence
  • Failure to report Title IX misconduct
  • Hazing
  • Providing false information to Title IX personnel
  • Stalking
  • Sexual assault, discrimination, and exploitation

While Title IX applies to K-12 schools and institutions of higher education, the federal guidelines also manage violations that may occur in a vast spectrum of training programs and workshops. Instructors, coaches, and staff members of Vermont colleges and universities are often recruited to participate in community events and activities that rely on their expertise. Even though it may not be a school or college-sponsored event, Title IX will still apply to activities such as:

  • Boater's safety courses operated by funding from the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Naturalist training and workshops funded by the Department of the Interior
  • Vocational training administered through the Department of Commerce

Title IX Restructuring

The Title IX grievance process is structured to allow both parties to defend themselves against false accusations. However, the Biden Administration is set on rolling back Trump-era enforcement guidelines like in-person formal hearings, official reporting channels, witness cross-examination, and outside representative.

The Department of Justice has included language in the law to "fully enforce civil rights laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation," according to a White House press release. Yet, potential legislative expansions to prevent identity-based harassment have vast threatening implications on campuses revered for their safeguard of free speech.

Title IX Reporting Requirements for Vermont College Employees

Institutions of higher education have mandatory reporting requirements for most employees. Faculty and staff may be designated by their school as official reporting resources, also known as "responsible employees" under the Clery Act. Resident advisors and teacher's assistants are students who serve in official college roles and will be held to employee Title IX standards.

While reporting requirements vary from school to school, all information regarding obligations will be found in a school's employee or faculty handbook or student code of conduct. Exemptions to the rule exist, as some employees are not considered mandated reporters but are "confidential resources." Typically, these include university counselors, pastors, and some student health providers.

A few examples of the differences in reporting requirements in Vermont institutions of higher education include:

  • Bennington College: Students and staff "should" report Title IX misconduct, though a few Officials with Authority (OWA) are mandated, as are members of student leadership
  • Landmark College: Campus Safety personnel, Dean of Students, resident advisors, resident directors, and the Vice President for Student Affairs are required to report allegations
  • Vermont College of Fine Arts: All employees are "encouraged" to report violations, but the school will move forward with proceedings once any OWA informs the Title IX Coordinator

How Does the Title IX Grievance Process Work?

Once a school's Title IX Coordinator is informed of allegations, the institution will have "actual knowledge" of the incident, and the grievance process will begin. While schools and programs differ slightly on the amount of time given to certain aspects of the process—investigations, hearings, appeals, and if the accused is a student or employee—most proceed similarly.

At Champlain College, the investigation phase proceeds as follows:

  1. The Title IX Coordinator will contact the alleged victim (Complainant) to discuss the allegations.
  2. The Title IX Coordinator informs the Respondent about the allegations and apprises them of their rights, including the right to be presumed "not responsible" and their right to choose an advisor.
  3. An Investigator(s) will be selected to gather evidence and interview the Complainant, Respondent, and witnesses involved.
  4. The Investigator(s) will send a preliminary report to both parties, who will have ten days to respond.
  5. After the comment period subsides, the Investigator(s) will forward a final investigative report to both parties, giving the Complaint and Respondent ten days to respond further.

The hearing phase will begin once the final report is sent to the Title IX Coordinator. Although there is no set timeframe, hearings will commence no sooner than ten business days after receipt of the final investigative report. The Title IX Coordinator will appoint a Hearing Officer to preside over the meeting.

  1. The Hearing Officer will allow the Complainant and Respondent to make an opening statement.
  2. The Hearing Officer will permit each party's advisor to cross-examine the other party and witnesses.
  3. The Complainant and Respondent may make closing remarks.
  4. The Hearing Officer will base their determination of responsibility on the "preponderance of evidence" (greater than 50 percent convinced) within ten business days after the hearing.

Appealing Title IX Misconduct

Parties may appeal the decision of their respective school disciplinary boards only in a few circumstances. For instance, at Bennington College, they include:

  • Excessive sanctions
  • Procedural deviations affected the outcome of the case
  • New evidence emerges
  • The hearing officials had a conflict of interest or bias

Generally, employees have from as many as five days to as few as two days to appeal. In most cases, school employees must deal with the sanction during the appellate process.

Title IX Consequences for Vermont College Employees

Punishments are severe if a college employee is found accountable for Title IX misconduct. Vermont Law School (VLS) states that any "employee of VLS found responsible for a violation of this policy will be subject to sanction(s) up to and including termination of employment. Typically, reprimands include:

  • Community service
  • Mandatory Title IX training
  • No contact directives
  • Suspension without pay
  • Demotion and loss of tenure
  • Permanent notation on file
  • Termination of employment

Consequences will follow a college employee long after the school's disciplinary process ends. For example, Title IX violators will have the offense detailed on their employee records, causing challenges in seeking employment in other education ventures.

Sanctions also interfere with obtaining federal financial aid and make some ineligible for professional licenses and jobs. Yet, there are options for the accused to redress the situation.

How Can a Title IX Advisor Help?

Title IX misconduct will undoubtedly endanger your future in education. If you're accused, you must defend yourself in a fast-paced process with complex procedures.

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