Title IX Rights of Accused High School Students

High school Title IX charges understandably frighten and unnerve the accused student and the student's concerned parents. Title IX of the federal Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits certain forms of sexual misconduct. Those prohibitions include such serious crimes as sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking. When a high school accuses a student of Title IX violations, even for non-violent acts like sexual pranks and innuendo, the charges carry serious implications of more-severe wrongs. Findings of Title IX misconduct in high school can interfere with college ambitions, jobs, and careers, carrying lifelong impacts. Accused students and their concerned parents have good reason to fear those consequences and to take Title IX charges most seriously.

Fortunately, Title IX protections go hand-in-hand with the seriousness of Title IX charges. Title IX doesn't simply prohibit certain sexual misconduct. Title IX also has abundant procedural provisions, especially in the federal regulations that carry out its legislative edicts. Many of those Title IX procedures are protections for the complaining witness who may also be a victim of the alleged sexual wrongs. Victims and witnesses need and deserve protections. But several Title IX procedures address the rights of the accused student, who also needs and deserves those protections.

The Need to Protect the Accused

Title IX cases can involve sharp disputes over what happened to whom under what circumstances. Complainants and witnesses in Title IX matter sometimes lie or mistake falsehoods for truth. Every complainant and witness have his or her own interests, biases, agendas, and perspectives. Allegations of school sexual misconduct can attract plenty of misguided attention. Publicity and public reactions can influence school officials in how fairly they conduct and decide Title IX cases. Innocent respondents can get railroaded into false admissions or findings of Title IX violations. Take the Duke University Lacrosse Team incident as Exhibit A of how badly a school sexual misconduct proceeding can go wrong to the damage of innocent students' education, life, and reputation. High school students accused of Title IX violations need and deserve protections.

New Protective Rules

Today, challenging false or unfair Title IX charges is easier than it was under former Title IX regulations. You'll need the representation and defense of a skilled Title IX defense attorney, but the protections are there to assist that expert attorney in your Title IX defense. New 2020 Title IX rules grant Title IX respondents greater rights and protections than respondents in other regulatory proceedings. For example, and subject to a Massachusetts federal judge's ruling affecting the following nationwide, those new Title IX rules prohibit high school officials from relying on written hearsay statements of absent witnesses to find a Title IX violation after a formal hearing. Officials must now rely only on witnesses who appear in person to testify at the formal hearing under cross-examination. That one new rule corrects a huge disadvantage for the accused student, who formerly might suffer Title IX discipline on the basis of unchallengeable written statements.

The current Title IX rules also address who gets to cross-examine those incriminating witnesses. Formerly, high schools could limit the questioning of witnesses to the hearing official or the accused student, neither of whom may have the skill to expose lies, speculation, guesses, and exaggerations. Today, under the new Title IX rules, the high school must permit the accused student's retained Title IX defense attorney to cross-examine witnesses, either via written questions for schools that use an investigation model to determine responsibility, or via live cross-examination by the student's advisor at a hearing for schools that use a hearing model. That second reform gives the accused student another huge protection, given the power of a skilled cross-examination to expose testimony lacking a factual basis or credibility.

The current Title IX rules also require the high school to permit the student, and the student's retained Title IX defense attorney to examine the school's evidence before a hearing if the school uses a hearing model, as opposed to an investigation model, to determine responsibility. The accused student and defense attorney can thus go into the hearing better prepared to present relevant evidence in defense, challenge the school's evidence, and cross-examine the school's incriminating witnesses. The current Title IX rules also require the high school to provide for an appeal of any adverse decision against the accused student. An appeal lets the accused student have the review and decision of an independent official not previously involved in the matter. These are just a few of Title IX rights protecting the accused student.

The Limits of Title IX Protections

Title IX protections aren't perfect. They are not nearly the equivalent of the constitutional rights afforded the criminally accused. High schools need not, for instance, prove Title IX charges beyond a reasonable doubt. On the contrary, high schools tend to adopt Title IX policies that permit the school to prove the charges by a simple preponderance of the evidence or, at some schools, a higher clear-and-convincing-evidence standard. But while Title IX protections aren't like the protections for the criminally accused, Title IX protections are still substantial enough to make for meaningful rights of defense. With skilled Title IX defense attorney representation, an accused student can successfully defend a high school Title IX charge.

The Critical Role of Attorney Representation

Title IX protections for the accused student make attorney representation critical to a high school student's successful defense. Just because the protections exist doesn't make them meaningful. A skilled Title IX defense attorney must put those protections to work. Witnesses don't cross-examine themselves. A skilled Title IX defense attorney must prepare for and execute the cross-examination. Appeals are not self-executing. A skilled Title IX defense attorney must research, prepare, document, and timely submit a compelling appeal, to successfully correct an erroneous decision. Each Title IX protection requires a skilled Title IX defense attorney to hold the high school accountable to the protection's effect and intent.

Premier Title IX Defense Attorney Available for High School Cases

National Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm specialize in representing high school students accused of Title IX violations across the United States. Attorney Lento and his team have helped hundreds of high school and other students nationwide to successfully defend Title IX charges. Don't let Title IX penalties ruin your student's reputation and opportunities. Hire a professional academic attorney to help your high school student's needs. 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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