The University of Maryland is a relatively large higher education institution that serves a diverse community of 38,000 students. This school expects each and every member of its vast community to comply with its implemented Title IX regulations, which outright condemns and disallows gender-based discrimination. In accordance with the federal law, sexual misconduct falls under the realm of gender-based discrimination. This means that all cases of this nature are to be investigated and resolved by the university. If you have been accused of sexual misconduct, it's important you understand what you're up against. After all, being found responsible for violating Title IX policy could lead to dire repercussions that could prevent you from accomplishing the academic and professional goals you've set.
For the purposes of this article, we will provide a brief overview of the University of Maryland's Title IX process.
Title IX Process
Interim protective measures
Based on the nature and circumstances of a complaint, the Director of Student Conduct may implement interim protective measures to protect a complainant from being retaliated against. The following measures may be imposed upon respondents in an effort to protect complainants:
- Changes in work schedule or job assignment
- Housing arrangement
- Restrictive access to certain areas of the university
- The issuing of a no contact order (no verbal, electronic, written or third party communication between parties) etc.
The investigation process
When it comes to making a determination in this phase of the process, all decisions will be based on the preponderance of evidence. A preponderance of evidence means “it is more likely than not.” Therefore, at the end of this part of the process, the evidence collected during this phase will dictate whether or not it was likely that the reported conduct occurred and if it constituted as prohibited conduct in violation of the school's policy.
Prior to an investigation, school authorities will notify both parties and meet with them separately. The sole purpose of the meeting is to make sure all parties provided with adequate information regarding school policies and procedures, rights, and resources. This is the time when each party will have the chance to receive answers for any questions they may have. Respondents should have a list of questions prepared before attending a meeting. Also, during this time, certain facts in a complaint will be assessed to determine if the process will continue. Such factors include the age of a complainant, the existence of violence, the use of a weapon, the disciplinary history of a respondent, etc.
Throughout the course of an investigation, a complainant, respondent, and witnesses who known any information in relation to a case will be heard by investigators. Also, they will collect any information that supports each parties account of the alleged incident. This information includes physical evidence, documents, communications between parties (emails, text messages, social media messages etc.), and other records considered relevant in a case. Once all the information is gathered, the investigators will come up with a final investigation report that will indicate a determination and a recommended sanction (if applicable).
If a student thinks that a determination and/or sanction is unfair or unjustified, he or she is allowed to appeal this decision. An appeal is essentially a request for a school to reconsider its decision. However, in order for an appeal to be granted, it must be requested on the premise of reasonable grounds, rather than mere dissatisfaction with school's decision. The sole grounds of an appeal include, but are not limited to:
- There were specified procedural errors in interpretation of University policy that were so substantial as to effectively deny a student notice or a fair opportunity to be heard.
- New and significant information that could not have been discovered during an investigation or prior is available, and could substantially impact a determination and/or sanction
- The investigators exhibited bias towards a student or students
- The sanction imposed is substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation
An appeal must be submitted in writing within five business days from the date of receipt of the notice to respond.
Title IX Advisor
Choosing an attorney to occupy the role of your advisor lets your school know that you are serious about the protection of your rights. An attorney can also help you defend yourself adequately. Skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento is here to help. Contact him today.
Title IX violations and Title IX charges can change an accused student's life if not defended against properly and as early as possible during the disciplinary process, and Joseph D. Lento has nearly a decade of experience passionately fighting for the future of his clients at universities and colleges throughout the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead, prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, 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 advisor to students facing disciplinary cases in Maryland and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Joseph D. Lento can help.