What You Need to Know About a College Title IX Investigation

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Nov 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

When a student is accused of sexual misconduct under his or her school's Title IX policies, the accused and his or her parents will have many questions that need to be accurately answered about what to expect.  Some colleges and universities are better than others at providing fair, unbiased information, but there are other schools that unfortunately leave the accused and his or her family in the dark because they are not provided with a realistic view of what to expect during a Title IX investigation.

Title IX Investigations and Student Rights

Depending on the college or university involved, talking to school administrators may provide an accurate view of the path forward, but in enough instances to be a major concern, the school may try to minimize what is taking place.  In some instances, accused students are prodded, whether unintentionally or not, to forego the limited rights that they do have.  It is not uncommon for a student, after being found responsible and sanctioned of course, to note that when first meeting with school officials, they were informed that "things will work out," or that there will be a "better outcome" if they tell the school what happened without any unnecessary considerations.

It is often only after the accused student goes through the campus disciplinary process in full that they recognize just what was at stake and just how serious of a situation the matter had been.  For example, students and parents who had been lulled into a false sense of security will at times note that they were never provided with a copy of the school's Title IX policy.  Upon closer inspection, the school had emailed the policy when the student was first contacted regarding the matter.  Did anyone read the policy?  Unfortunately, not until the damage was done.  On other occasions, students and their families will note that the school indicated that an advisor is not necessary.  If found responsible for sexual misconduct and suspended or expelled, is that the time to contact someone experienced enough to help?  To be found responsible for a Title IX charge, sanctioned as a result, and to thereafter attempt to mitigate the unfavorable outcome is a serious mistake.  An accused student and his or her family must make certain that they do everything possible to try to obtain a favorable outcome, and these steps must be taken as early as possible.

Because notification of a Title IX complaint will be often be followed by the investigation itself, it is critical to understand what is supposed to take place during a college or university Title IX investigation, and how to respond.

Why am I being investigated for a Title IX case?

Because colleges and universities throughout the nation that receive federal education fuding look to the federal government for guidance, and more specifically, the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, federal law dictates how a school is expected to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct made against a college or university student, or in cases involving graduate or professional students, how the business, law, medical, or dental school for example, is expected to respond.

Federal Title IX policy comes with both a "cost" and a "benefit" for colleges and universities.  Schools receive significant federal educational funding when they remain in compliance with Title IX mandates.  Federal funding is the "benefit."  Schools are at risk to lose this significant federal educational funding if they do not appropriately respond to campus sexual misconduct.  Appropriately responding to campus sexual misconduct is the "cost." 

This dynamic is one of several as to what motivates a Title IX investigation, and it can be put another way - The Department of Education Office of Civil Rights dangles the "carrot" of federal funding, but if the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights deems that the school did not appropriately respond, or more specifically, failed to prevent or address a hostile environment on campus, the school will receive the "stick" of losing federal funds.

Will the college protect the respondent's rights during a Title IX investigation?

Title IX cases generally involve a complainant, who is the supposed victim of the sexual misconduct, often a female but not always, and a respondent, the student alleged to have committed the sexual misconduct, often a male, but again, not always.  Due to the "carrot and stick" dynamic, the unfortunate reality is that schools will always put their interests first, the complainant's interest second, and lastly, if at all, the respondent's interests. 

Directly related to schools' interest coming first and foremost, accused students and even their families often do not recognize that a school's attorneys are always involved in Title IX disciplinary cases.  Although the attorney(s) may not reveal themselves to students and their families during the Title IX investigation or during disciplinary proceedings, they are most certainly a major part of the process, advising the school every step of the way.  This is one reason of many that an accused student's Romance Languages professor or any other person in academia is entirely unsuited to serve as an accused student's advisor - Advisors provided by the school are completely out of their element considering what is at stake, and when all is said and done, they are employed by, or if nothing else, answer to the school.  Who has their loyalty?  Is there the possibility, whether remote or otherwise, of collusion?  Or putting the school's interests before the respondent's interests?  Are these risks worth taking when your son or daughter's neck is potentially on the chopping block?

In many cases, negotiations between the school's attorney and myself, at times exhaustive, will not only be potentially very effective towards resolving clients' concerns in a favorable manner, it is often a necessary part of my work on clients' behalf as an attorney and Title IX advisor.

Again, the school is most concerned about how it responds to the allegations, arguably not so much out of concern for the complaint's rights and interests, but rather, out of concern that it does not want to found to be non-compliant with federal Title IX policies by the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.  At first glance, the efforts that a school takes in making certain that the complainant's concerns are addressed may appear to be motivated by altruistic concerns.  This is not to say that schools have no good faith in addressing campus sexual assault, but the reality is that there is much more to the story than meets the eye. 

Due to these unfortunate realities, and although schools would never admit as such, the respondent's "rights" may be of limited to no concern to the school, and by the nature of the forum, may be tenuous at best.

What will my college's Title IX investigation be like?

Because sexual misconduct itself covers various acts and behaviors, a school's Title IX investigation will be dictated by the nature of the specific allegations themselves.  Sexual misconduct can run the spectrum from unwelcome staring, as ridiculous as that may be, to unwelcome non-physical contact (such as text messages, phone calls, emails, social media posts), all the way to including acts such as sexual assault and rape.  Sexual violence is a subset of sexual misconduct, and includes more serious offense such as rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, or sexual coercion.  Sexual harassment is another form of sexual misconduct.  The list is expansive, and there are many ways for a college or university student to get into trouble both on and off-campus, because ultimately, school Title IX policies (and code of conducts) almost always cover acts that take place off-campus even when school is not in session, such as during spring, summer, or fall break.

The Department of Education Office of Civil Rights will require a more "dedicated" approach for more serious allegations.  In addition, a school's burden is arguably higher if they have handled such matters before because Title IX policy dictates that "what [a school] has learned from past experiences" will be considered by the Department of Education Office of Civil as to whether the school's response to addressing the sexual misconduct and hostile environment was appropriate.  A school such as Penn StateRutgers University, Temple University, University of Pittsburgh, or West Chester University  would arguably be held to a higher standard than a smaller school that has not handled as many such matters.  That being said, all schools, regardless of size or experience with such matters, will be required to comply with Title IX policy regardless of their size or how many past incidents of sexual misconduct have been addressed.

What is the purpose of a Title IX investigation?

According to Title IX policies, a Title IX investigation is the process that a college or university uses to "resolve sexual violence" complaints.  The term "investigation" may be misleading because according to Title IX policies, the initial fact-finding investigation which will take place after a complaint is made is considered part of a Title IX investigation (as its name makes clear), but any hearing and decision-making process that a college or university uses to determine: 1) whether or not the alleged sexual misconduct / sexual violence occurred; and 2) if it is determined that the sexual misconduct / violence occurred, what actions the college or university will take to stop the sexual misconduct / violence, end the hostile environment, and prevent the recurrence of the hostile environment. 

If there is a finding of responsibility against an accused student, the sanctions imposed on the accused and the remedies that the school implements on the complainant's behalf and the student body at large will be considered as part of the school's actions in addressing the sexual misconduct / sexual violence.  In sum, how federal Title IX policy regards what is to be considered the Title IX "investigation" can include everything that takes place from start to finish in a campus Title IX case, including the appeal process. 

The expansive definition of a Title IX "investigation" per Department of Education Office of Civil Rights' guidelines most likely will not be what most people would regard to be the case, but once informed by one's school that a Title IX investigation is taking place, the accused student and his or her family should recognize that the "investigation" is not limited to what takes places prior to the school's determination whether or not there is sufficient evidence to charge a student.

Are there guidelines for how a Title IX investigation should be conducted?

In theory, a campus Title IX investigation is supposed to be "adequate, reliable, impartial, and prompt and include the opportunity for both [the complainant and respondent] to present witnesses and other evidence."  In practice, however, such an equitable forum does not usually result.  One concern of many is that the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights does not specify who should conduct the Title IX investigation.

Will the investigation be conducted by campus police?  The school's Title IX office?  Outside attorneys who are contracted by the school to investigate the case?  The Title IX coordinator him or herself (as long as there are no "conflicts of interest" as mandated by Title IX policy)?  Every college and university has its own approach.  A school's Title IX coordinator may or may not be an attorney him or herself (but is often not), and may have limited experience in such matters, having only recently come into the position, and so forth. 

The University of Pennsylvania's Title IX coordinator, for example, is an attorney colleague who prosecuted sex offense cases in which I represented the defendant.  The former University of Pennsylvania Title IX coordinator is a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge who I regularly appear before for domestic violence matters.  Another attorney colleague, after leaving the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office as a prosecutor, served as the Title IX coordinator at the University of Virginia and was later appointed to serve as the Philadelphia District Attorney on an interim basis after the former Philadelphia District Attorney was charged with federal crimes. 

As is clear, there may be overlap between the world of law and the world of Title IX, but just as often, Title IX coordinators may be no more experienced or philosophically or emotionally-suited than any other person serving in such an important post.

Questions to Ask Before the Title IX Investigation Starts

Federal policy dictates that the person(s) conducting the investigation "must have training or experience in handling complaints of sexual violence and in the school's grievance procedures," but what does this mean exactly?  Have they handled one case before or 25 cases?  Did they used to be work in the Dean of Students' Office and a position in the Title IX office happened to become available?  Were they former law enforcement?  If so, did they work as a police officer or a prosecutor who handled rape cases?  The potential questions as to who may be serving as a school's investigator are endless. 

Aside from the fact that there are no standard qualifications to be a "Title IX coordinator," despite this position having major control over both the tone and direction of a sexual misconduct investigation, many Title IX coordinators are females, and internet research will often reveal that some coordinators have strong feminist views.  Parents, rightfully so, often will express concern that their son is being investigated and potentially charged by a person who may not hold young men in the same regard as young women. 

Unlike in criminal court proceedings, where a criminal defendant, at least for purposes of court, is presumed innocent and must be proven guilty by the prosecution, at many schools, and as much as the college or university would never admit as such, a respondent is presumed guilty and must prove his or her innocence.  This flawed dynamic alone should be enough to give accused students and their families tremendous pause, not to mention all of the other concerns regarding who is responsible for conducting the investigation and what agendas they may have.

What is the burden of proof in a college Title IX case?

Title IX policy provides for language that is supposed to ensure fairness, but in reality, "good intentions" are insufficient to ensure an equal playing field in the real world.  This unfortunate reality is further complicated by the fact that unlike in criminal court proceedings where the defendant has to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the burden of proof is significantly lower in campus Title IX proceedings.  This lower burden of proof does not bode well for a respondent because all a school has to decide is that it was "more likely than not" that a respondent committed the alleged act(s) or behavior.  To put this lower burden of proof in perspective, if it is 51% more likely that a respondent was responsible as accused, the respondent will be found responsible.   

Although recent changes in the direction that Title IX policy provides some hope that future respondents may have a fighting chance when accused of sexual misconduct, this push is limited and is by no means concrete.  In addition, Department of Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, who proposed these changes may be resigning from her post, and some Democrats have proposed legislation to defeat the tentative push to raise the burden of proof in Title IX cases.  In some states, including Pennsylvania, state attorney generals have taken action in an effort to keep complainant's rights at the forefront.  In addition, schools that have implemented Title IX disciplinary policies over several years of aggressive enforcement under the Obama Administration after the release of the well-publicized 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter are arguably unlikely to raise their burden of proof unless forced to by federal policies.  At present, DeVos' promise of a better day for those falsely accused is tenuous at best.

Will there be a hearing to decide if I am responsible for Title IX sexual misconduct?

Federal policy, in its definition of a Title IX investigation, does not require a hearing to determine if an accused student is responsible for Title IX charges.  Federal policy merely indicates that the Title IX investigation may include a hearing.  As further explained below, colleges and universities may share similarities in how Title IX charges are investigated and adjudicated, but every school is different.  Some schools use a "single investigator" model, others use a "hearing panel" model, and others yet use a "blended" model which incorporates elements of both.  Even among colleges and universities that use the same Title IX disciplinary model, critical differences exist as to each schools' specific Title IX disciplinary procedures. 

Is my college required to have a separate Title IX disciplinary procedure?

Another consideration is that some schools use the same disciplinary process to handle both Title IX and code of conduct violations.  Code of conduct violations can include being caught with alcohol or drugs on campus, damaging school property, assaulting another student, and so forth.  As may be expected, many Title IX cases involve allegations of alcohol and/or drug use.  Nonetheless, whether the Title IX claim involves code of conduct violations or not, if a college or university generally processes complaints of sexual misconduct / sexual violence through its standard disciplinary process and that process, including any investigation and potential hearing, meets federal Title IX requirements, and more specifically, enables the school to end the sexual misconduct / sexual violence, eliminate the hostile environment, and prevent its recurrence, then the school may use the standard disciplinary process to satisfy its Title IX obligations and is not required to conduct a separate Title IX investigation.

For schools that utilize code of conduct student disciplinary procedures to meet their Title IX obligation to resolve complaints of sexual misconduct / sexual violence promptly and equitably, those schools should recognize that imposing sanctions against the perpetrator, without additional remedies, likely will not be sufficient to eliminate the hostile environment and prevent recurrence as required by Title IX.  Because of this potential issue, federal policy notes that the school's Title IX coordinator should review the disciplinary process to ensure that it: 1) complies with the prompt and equitable requirements of Title IX;  2) allows for appropriate interim measures to be taken to protect the complainant during the process (such as imposing an interim suspension on the respondent while the Title IX investigation takes place, changing the respondent's dorm room or class schedule so that the complainant will not be burdened by continued contact, and related measures); and 3) provides for remedies to the complainant and school community where appropriate.

For schools that use a separate process, being investigated for sexual misconduct is unfortunate enough, and it may be of limited relief that some schools, depending on the circumstances, will not necessarily invoke Code of Conduct proceedings even if the Title IX claims involve violations of the Code of Conduct. 

What happens during the Title IX investigation if the local police are involved?

First and foremost, one of the most important decisions that a respondent and his or her family have to make when accused of sexual misconduct, whether on campus or off, is if they are going to participate in the school's disciplinary process or if they are going to decline to do so.  Because accusations of sexual misconduct, sexual violence, sexual assault, and most any other potential Title IX charge can expose the accused to criminal and civil liability, there is a risk in participating in the school's disciplinary process.  There is also a risk in declining to do so because schools in most instances, unless accommodations are made otherwise (through negotiations with the school's attorneys and other administrators), will investigate and adjudicate the case with or without the accused student's involvement.  In some instances, a student must decline.  In most instances, a student must participate, and accordingly, must present the strongest defense, and at times, the strongest offense, possible.

Why is my college investigating a sexual assault and not the police?

It may be obvious at this point that colleges and universities find themselves doing the job of the police in many instances because of their obligation under Title IX.  The conversation is more complicated, however.  Not to necessarily base the decision to participate or not on statistics, but the percentage of Title IX cases that result in a criminal investigation is approximately 20%.  There are different views as to why a student who is supposedly the victim of sexual misconduct will involve his or her school, but will not involve law enforcement

Advocates of those who experience sexual assault will argue that complainants do not want to make an extremely difficult experience more difficult yet by reporting the matter to the local police, or by having their college or university do so.  Respondents and their families, especially those who are falsely accused, and others who know the unfortunate dynamic behind the Title IX disciplinary process will submit that the reason complainants are willing to involve their school and not law enforcement is because in cases involving false claims, a complainant knows better to have law enforcement question his or her story, because if caught in a lie, the potential consequences will be much higher than if the school were to do so.

Granted, if a college or university finds that a complainant filed a false Title IX claim, there will be consequences, some as severe as suspension or expulsion, but there will not be "hell to pay" as may be the case if the police and the local prosecutor's office determined the same.   In cases where revenge is sought on some slight or injustice perpetrated by the respondent, whether perceived or real, a complainant may also be satisfied with whatever potential punishment the school may dole out.  If an ex-boyfriend is going to be suspended or expelled from school because he no longer wants to date the complainant, why involve the police?  Suspension or expulsion may be enough to satisfy any complainant's misguided sense of justice.

Who will lead the Title IX investigation if the police are involved?

If local (non-campus) law enforcement is involved in one of the approximate 20% of Title IX cases that involve local (non-campus) law enforcement, the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights mandates that when a college or university is investigating an incident of alleged sexual violence for Title IX purposes, to the extent possible, a college or university should coordinate with any criminal investigations of the incident and establish appropriate fact-finding roles for each investigator; both the school's investigator(s) and law enforcement's investigator(s).  As may be expected, law enforcement will determine who does what in most instances when there is a corresponding criminal investigation. 

Not that external pressure would be needed because complainant's interests are generally revered by schools and their Title IX offices in contrast to those of respondents, Title IX policies also state that a college or university should consider whether information can be shared among the investigators so that complainants are not unnecessarily required to give multiple statements about a traumatic event.   Many ask what legitimate purpose a college or university serves in investigating allegations of sexual misconduct in the first place?  Although schools may be greatly out of their league in investigating and adjudicating such cases, schools do have an obligation to both complainants and the rest of their student body. 

Nonetheless, should colleges and universities instead refer all such cases to local (non-campus) law enforcement?  If this were the paradigm, would this actually be in respondents favor or would it work against their interests?   There are no easy answers to this question, but as things stand, schools will remain obligated under Title IX to serve their role as mandated by federal policies.  Because there are no anticipated changes on the horizon as to the fact that colleges and universities will continue to be the primary investigator of Title IX allegations, and are solely responsible in 80% of the cases, respondents and their families must recognize the forum in which such matters are addressed.  A forum with many flaws, but if nothing else, at least with the understanding per Title IX polices that ff the investigation includes forensic evidence, schools are encouraged (not required) to consult with local or campus law enforcement or a forensic expert to ensure that the evidence is correctly interpreted by school officials.

What should a respondent expect to take place during the Title IX investigation?

It is important to understand the overall dynamic of the Title IX investigative process and also specific issues and concerns as noted above, but the specifics of what will take place during the investigation must also be considered.  Ultimately, every college and university has its own approach to investigating sexual misconduct claims, although all will be guided by an effort to remain in compliance with Title IX.  Some approaches are more similar than others.  For example some schools use a "single investigator" model, others use a "hearing panel" model, and others yet use a "blended" model which incorporates elements of both.  Even among colleges and universities that use the same Title IX disciplinary model, critical differences exist as to each schools' specific Title IX disciplinary procedures.   That is why it is critical that the respondent and his or her attorney advisor know the particular school's policies like the back of their hands.

Relevant Evidence and the Title IX Investigation

The definition of "relevant evidence" in the world of law is evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.  The same is true in a Title IX case.  Although schools may try to preclude certain evidence from consideration, there must be an assertive response because the Title IX investigator is not going to exonerate the respondent.  Only the respondent and his or her attorney advisor, by utilizing an exhaustive approach in obtaining and presenting all relevant evidence, will be able to turn the tide of what can be an otherwise one-sided investigation.

Relevant evidence and common themes among colleges and universities through the Title IX investigation may include, but is not limited to:

  • Conducting interviews of the complainant, the alleged perpetrator(s), and any witnesses;
  • Reviewing law enforcement investigation documents, if applicable;
  • Reviewing student and personnel files; and
  • Gathering and examining other relevant documents or evidence (such evidence could include, for example, campus surveillance footage, video evidence, picture evidence, phone logs or billing statements, text messages, emails, social media posts, student ID card "swipe" logs, dorm room check-in and check-out times, polygraph exam results, and so forth).

What rights do students have in a Title IX investigation?

Because Title IX investigations are supposed to be "equitable," although colleges and universities are allowed to have flexibility in how they structures the investigative process.  For Title IX purposes, a school generally must give the complainant any rights that it gives to the alleged perpetrator.  Title IX policies state that "a balanced and fair process that provides the same opportunities to both parties will lead to sound and supportable decisions."  It is unfortunate, and at times tragic, that the ideals behind Title IX rings hollow at times.  Colleges and universities have implemented disciplinary procedures based on prior Title IX policy under the Obama Administration, and schools are arguably unlikely to fundamentally change their polices unless required to do so by the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.  Although DeVos has mandated some changes, other policy considerations are guidelines and nothing more.   Nonetheless, the following are generally the rights that both complainants and respondents are "expected" to have during a Title IX investigation ("expected" is in quotation marks because when a respondent exercises his or her rights, there are many instances where the respondent may be challenged by the school or others unless there is push back to not allow such an infringement on the respondent's rights to take place):

  • Throughout the investigation, the parties must have an equal opportunity to present relevant witnesses and other evidence. 
  • If the school permits one party to have lawyers or other advisors at any stage of the proceedings, it must do so equally for both parties. Any school-imposed restrictions on the ability of lawyers or other advisors to speak or otherwise participate in the proceedings must also apply equally.
  • If the school permits one party to submit third-party expert testimony, it must do so equally for both parties.
  • If the school provides for an appeal,the school may choose to allow appeal: 1) solely by the responding party; or 2) by both parties, in which case any appeal procedures must be equally available to both parties.  (This is one area where DeVos' action specifically addressed.  Prior to September 2017, if a school provided for an appeal, it had to do so equally for both parties.  Again, although the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights allows for greater respondent rights in some instances, schools are not necessarily required to provide for such rights.  At this bullet point makes clear, a college or university may allow for respondents only to appeal, or it can still allow both respondents and complainants to appeal per prior Title IX policy.)
  • Both parties must be notified, in writing, of the outcome of both the complaint and any appeal

Changes to Title IX

The most impactful change brought about by Department of Education Secretary DeVos is that the prior requirement that schools must use a "preponderance of the evidence" (more likely than not) standard in any Title IX proceedings, including any fact-finding and hearings, has been set aside.  Schools are now allowed to use the "clear and convincing" standard, although schools are not required to do so, and there are external pressures (referenced throughout this article) as to why schools have an incentive to keep the lower standard which disadvantages respondents in favor of complainants.

It may be of limited consolation that change is on the horizon if Secretary DeVos continues to push back on the direction Title IX has gone over the past several years.  As noted above, however, the prospect of a more equitable forum is more conjecture than anything concrete at the present time.

Title IX Investigations and Potential Sanctions

Because the prospect of being found responsible and consequent sanctions weighs heavily on the minds of accused students and their parents, a discussion of a Title IX investigation would be incomplete without considered how a school decides what sanctions are appropriate in a sexual misconduct case. 

When a respondent first speaks with his or her school's Title IX office, hopefully the necessary steps have been taken to protect the respondent's interests, including being supported by an experienced attorney advisor.  The Title IX office follows a standard script along the following lines:

"A complaint has been received by the school regarding alleged sexual misconduct.  An investigation will be taking place.  The school will decide whether or not you will be charged under Title IX.  If charged, a determination will be made if you are responsible.  If you are found responsible, you will be subject to sanctions which can range from a warning to probation to suspension to expulsion."

What the Title IX office does not usually inform the accused student and his or her family is that if found responsible, and despite the ridiculous exceptions that make the news, a suspension will be imposed at a minimum in many instances.  A suspension can also be significant in length, lasting from anywhere from a semester to several years for example.  For students who will be graduating soon or have graduated, the prospect of a sanction could instead be an extended hold on granting the student his or her degree and transcripts.  If the alleged sexual misconduct is more serious yet, including non-consensual sex or any kind of non-consensual penetration, expulsion is all but guaranteed.  Any case involving dating violence or causing emotional or psychological harm to another will also be subject to the prospect of severe sanctions. 

The Title IX Investigator is Not Your Friend

Regardless of any ridiculous cases otherwise, no one found responsible for sexual misconduct is writing a 500-word essay as a sanction.  Regretfully, accused students and their families often do not recognize this until the only thing that can be done is damage control.  Title IX offices also do not help in making accused students and their families understand what is in fact at stake.  The Title IX coordinator, the school investigator(s), and anyone else involved in the matter come across as the respondent's friend.  They are not your friend.  They may or may not be the enemy, but they are not your friend. 

Concerned mothers and fathers, even siblings, will call me after their son or daughter, brother or sister, went through the Title IX investigation, had their case adjudicated, was found responsible, and suspended or expelled as a result.  Appeals can generally be taken if done immediately, but getting an unfavorable result and trying to mitigate the damage after the fact is a major mistake.  Everything possible must be done as early as possible to get the best possible result while the case is taking place.  Appeals can result in success at times; even limited success when pursuing an appeal may save a young person's future, but again, an appeal should only be considered as a last resort.  It may or may not be obvious, but the goal should be to be found not responsible for Title IX charges before the case reaches the appeal stage.

Ultimately, the only guidance that Title IX policies give to colleges and universities is that sanctions alone may not be sufficient to remedy the hostile environment.  Why would schools not subject a student found responsible to the most severe sanctions if according to the federal policy, sanctions alone may not be sufficient?  For the reasons explained above, the school's interests are aligned with those of the complainants.  If the school needs to ensure that the complainant's rights are protected so that the school remains in compliance with Title IX, the school has incentive to sanction a student found responsible for Title IX charges with an iron fist.

Philadelphia Title IX Attorney Serving Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Nationwide

Allegations of sexual misconduct should never be taken lightly.  Young people have worked hard to get into college, graduate school, or whatever academic program in which they may find themselves, and too much is at stake to not understand exactly what is at stake and how decisions related to the matter will be made.  The Title IX investigation is by one of the most critical aspects of a campus sexual misconduct case, and per the actual definition promulgated by the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, the Title IX investigation can in a sense be considered the entire case from start to finish.

An accused student and his or her family must not make the mistake of going it alone, or using an advisor who is not up to the task.  Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped many students and their families through such proceedings; often one of the most difficult times in their lives.  Whether in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or in any of the 50 states, Joseph Lento passionately defends his clients whether allegations are the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding, an honest mistake, or simply poor judgment.  Contact him today for help.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


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