The University System of Maryland at Hagerstown (USMH) is a higher education institution that offers undergraduate and graduate programs in downtown Hagerstown. Like many other federally funded schools, it has implemented federal guidelines for students to abide by. Title IX - a law that prohibits gender-based discrimination - is one of the most highly enforced laws on campus, and students who are found violating this law are prosecuted with dire repercussions.
Sexual misconduct is considered gender-based discrimination, which means that USHM is required to resolve all cases of this nature. If you are a student of this school and have been accused of sexual misconduct, its important you understand the processes you will be obligated to undergo under law, even if you feel like the allegations are fabricated or exaggerated. For the purposes of this article, we will provide a brief overview of USMH's Title IX Policy.
Title IX Process
USMH plans to resolve all complaints of sexual misconduct within 60 days of the date of the original report. This timeframe may be extended depending on the nature of the case.
Once the school's Title IX coordinator receives notification of the alleged sexual misconduct, his or hers main concern is ensuring that a complainant and the campus community is safe from potential retaliation. One of the methods of preventing this from occurring and maintaining a safe and secure learning environment is imposing interim measures. Interim measures are guidelines that limit the interactions between the parties listed in a complaint. The following measures may be imposed upon respondents, depending on the circumstances:
- Housing and residency reassignments
- Chances in work schedule or job assignments
- The issuing of a no contact order (barrig verbal, electronic, written and third party communication between parties)
- Restrictive access to certain areas of the university etc.
The purpose of a preliminary investigation is to determine if the process should proceed or is this complaint warrants no further action. This decision will be made at the discretion of a complainant and a Title IX coordinator. Factors like the age of a complainant, the use of a weapon, the existence of violence, and the disciplinary history of a respondent will be considered when choosing how to proceed with resolution.
If it is decided that the process should proceed, an investigation will be conducted. Investigators will interview all the parties involved to gather facts about the alleged misconduct. Once all the information is gathered, the investigators will comprise an investigative finding determining the innocence or guilt of a respondent (based on the preponderance of evidence) and recommended sanctions, if applicable.
If a respondent feels as if a determination and/or sanction is unfair or unjustified, the school allows him or her to appeal. An appeal is basically a request for a school to reconsider its decision. Although a student may be dissatisfied with a final determination, an appeal cannot be granted merely because of this reason, it must be based on reasonable grounds for it to be considered. The sole grounds for an appeal include:
- New information: New information has suddenly surfaced that could have made a substantial difference throughout the course of an investigation
- Procedural error: a procedural error was made that significantly impacted the outcome of a determination and/or sanction
- Disproportionate sanction(s): the sanction was disproportionate to the severity of the violation
A respondent has five business days to submit an appeal to a Title IX coordinator.
Title IX Advisor
By choosing an attorney to fulfill the role as your advisor, you are ensuring that your rights are protected and that your case is defended adequately. Skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped guide many students who were once in your predicament successfully through their school's processes, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today for help.
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.