Title IX at Private High Schools

Students suspected of Title IX violations at private high schools, and their concerned parents, may wonder whether Title IX applies at all to private high schools. Title IX is federal law, a part of the Education Amendments of 1972. Congress has only limited constitutional powers. It cannot just decide to tell state public high schools or private high schools how to educate students. The Constitution generally reserves those general powers to the individual states. Title IX would be an unconstitutional overreach of limited federal powers if Congress had simply commanded all high schools to comply with Title IX.

Instead, Congress tied Title IX to Congress's legitimate, constitutionally authorized spending power, its so-called power of the purse. What that limitation means in practical effect is that if your student's private high school decides to accept federal funds, then Congress can lawfully tie your student's private high school's receipt of those federal funds to the school's agreement to comply with Title IX. Many private high schools receive federal funding and thus must comply with Title IX. Chances are good that your student's private high school accepts some federal funding and that your student must thus meet the school's Title IX policy.

Federal Funding for Private High Schools

Federal funding of private high schools is widespread, and the applicability of Title IX within those private high schools is also so widespread because Congress offers substantial federal funding for both public and private secondary education. The federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and its amendments authorize federal funding to local educational agencies, generally meaning your local public school district. But the same federal law requires those local public school districts to share that federal funding equitably with local private high schools. Public school districts may be reluctant to do so. The more federal money that goes to private high schools in the districts, the less federal money that goes to the public high schools that are the public school district's primary interest and concern. But if your student's private high school has applied to your local public school district for an equitable share of federal funding, then that funding should be available.

Federal funding of public and private high school education goes for many programs and needs. Services to disabled students are an example. Other examples include IDEA Special Education grants, No Child Left Behind grants, National School Lunch programs, and YouthBuild apprenticeship programs. Federal funding can make a significant positive impact on a private high school's budget. The programs and services that federal funding supports can also make a significant difference in a private high school student's education. Many private high schools accept federal funding and thus must comply with Title IX requirements.

Exemptions from Title IX Requirements

Title IX and its implementing regulations do not exempt private high schools from Title IX's reach. But Title IX and its implementing regulations do allow for certain exemptions that some private high schools may choose to claim and pursue.

The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, charged with enforcing Title IX, acknowledges that private religious high schools may qualify for Title IX exemption. But under 20 USC Section 1681(a)(3) and the implementing regulation 34 CFR Section 106.12, the private religious high school must show the Office of Civil Rights that applying Title IX would be inconsistent with the religious tenets of the organization. Just because the high school is religious does not mean that the high school has a Title IX exemption.

Some private religious high schools seek Title IX exemption. Illinois' Catholic Benedictine Marmion Academy prep school for young men is an example. Other private religious high schools may not. You and your retained attorney must confirm whether your student's private high school has a religious exemption. Title IX's implementing regulation 34 CFR Section 106.13 also permits an exemption for private schools that train their students for military service or the merchant marine. Indiana's Howe Military Academy is an example. Unless your student's private high school is a military academy or religious school claiming exemption, though, Title IX is likely to apply to your student's private high school.

Defending Title IX Charges at a Private High School

If your private high school student faces Title IX charges, all is not lost. Just because Title IX probably applies to your student's private high school doesn't mean that your student has no protections or rights. On the contrary, the same Title IX regulations that protect accused students at public high schools apply to protect your student at the private high school. Those protective rights are real and substantial, especially after the new 2020 Title IX rules took effect. Under those new rules, your student's private high school must allow you and your student to retain a Title IX defense attorney to represent your student throughout the Title IX proceeding. The rules also guarantee your student the right to have the attorney attend the Title IX hearing to cross-examine witnesses who are incriminating your student (for schools that use a hearing model to determine responsibility as opposed to an investigation model). Cross-examination is an engine of truth, especially in real time at a hearing, exposing incredible testimony that has no factual foundation, involves guess and conjecture, or involves outright lies. Cross-examination is just one of the several new protections and many other traditional protections that due process has always required.

The Critical Role for Attorney Representation

Because Title IX protections for the accused apply at any public or private high school that must comply with Title IX regulations, defense attorney representation is simply critical to a positive outcome for students charged with Title IX misconduct. Protections are not self-executing. Your student needs a skilled Title IX defense attorney to put those protections to work. National Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm are available to represent your private high school student accused of Title IX violations. Attorney Lento and his team have helped hundreds of high school and other students nationwide. Title IX discipline can ruin a student's reputation. Don't let that happen to your private high school student. Retain Title IX defense attorney Joseph Lento. and the Lento Law Firm team. Call 888.535.3686 or contact online now.

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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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