Why Hire a Lawyer to Defend a High School Title IX Case

Title IX Requires Substantive Law Knowledge

To fully appreciate why you need a skilled and experienced Title IX defense lawyer for your high school student facing Title IX charges, you first need to know what a Title IX misconduct proceeding is. Title IX is a complex federal statute that is part of Congress's Education Amendments of 1972. The Title IX statute, though, doesn't adequately indicate what a Title IX proceeding entails. Reading the statute won't really get you anywhere. Instead, complex and lengthy Title IX regulations provide the details that an accused student, or more to the point the student's skilled Title IX defense attorney, must know as to what student conduct Title IX covers and prohibits.

Those Title IX regulations also frequently change with changes in presidential administrations. The current Title IX rules reflect significant 2020 changes that expand protections for accused high school students. An accused student, or more to the point, the student's skilled Title IX defense attorney, must remain current on those important updates. Title IX regulations are also so extensive and complex that they require interpretation in case law applications. Important Supreme Court case law further interprets Title IX, like Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education confirming Title IX civil liability and Grove City College v Bell limiting Title IX's application to federally funded grant activities for schools that do not themselves receive federal funds.

In sum and substance, Title IX law and regulations require federally funded schools, including most public and private high schools, to discourage, address, and prevent certain forms of sex discrimination in educational programs and activities. Those prohibited forms of sex discrimination include sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and sexual harassment. Each of those terms has statutory, regulatory, and case law definitions that interpret, limit, or expand their reach. Sexual harassment, for instance, can come in the form of quid pro quo conditioning of educational benefits on submission to sexual advances and requests or in the form of a sexually hostile environment composed of severe and pervasive unwelcome sexual harassment. Just what each of these Title IX prohibitions means in context depends on further knowledge of Title IX case law. You can see from the vast extent of this substantive law knowledge why an accused student needs the representation of an experienced Title IX defense lawyer.

Required Title IX Procedural Knowledge

All of this required Title IX substantive-law knowledge only begins to outline what Title IX defense truly requires. An accused student, or more properly the student's Title IX defense lawyer, must also know Title IX's procedural rules. Like Title IX's substantive-law interpretations, Title IX's procedural rules require vast technical knowledge of Title IX law, Title IX regulations, Title IX case precedent, and administrative procedures.

The Title IX procedural knowledge required to successfully defend a high school Title IX charge can include procedures on complaints, notice to the accused student, temporary emergency removal of the accused student, interview of the accused student, the accused student's right to review the school's evidence before the hearing, the accused student's right to review the school's investigation report, whether witnesses must testify in person at the hearing or the hearing officials may consider the statements of absent witnesses, whether the accused student may cross-examine witnesses, and, most significant of all, what role Title IX regulations ensure that the accused student's retained defense attorney may play in the proceeding and hearing.

Other critical Title IX procedures have to do with the bias or conflict of interest of Title IX decision-makers, what proof burden the school has at a contested hearing, protection of the victim or other witnesses when testifying, what constitutes retaliation against participants or interference with the proceeding, whether the school must record the hearing, what appeal rights the accused student has, and what grounds may support a winning appeal. Again, these are only a few of the many procedural issues that Title IX proceedings can raise, the law on which the accused student or student's retained Title IX defense attorney must know. You can begin to see from the extent of this procedural knowledge why an accused student needs skilled attorney representation.

Required Title IX Case Skills

Knowing lots of Title IX law is only a start, though, toward being able to effectively defend a high school Title IX proceeding. An accused student, or more properly the student's retained Title IX defense attorney, must also have academic administrative skills. Being smart is one thing. Being capable is another. Title IX defense requires knowing what to do with Title IX knowledge. Effective Title IX defense frequently requires advanced skill in all or many of these areas:

  • Educating the student client and the student's parents
  • Keeping the student client and the student's parents informed
  • Timely pleading answers and defenses
  • Investigating, gathering, and preserving evidence
  • Discovering and evaluating the school's evidence
  • Advising the student client and student's parents on achievable outcomes
  • Communicating timely, promptly, clearly, and firmly with school officials
  • Researching and briefing relevant statutes, regulations, and case law
  • Preparing witnesses and documentary evidence for the hearing
  • Preparing and conducting cross-examination of adverse witnesses
  • Reviewing hearing transcripts and preparing appeal arguments and briefs
  • Negotiating compromise resolutions facilitated by creative options
  • Documenting resolutions in reliable form
  • Maintaining confidentiality and privacy while managing publicity

What's at Stake in a High School Title IX Case

To fully appreciate why you need a skilled and experienced Title IX defense lawyer for your high school student facing Title IX charges, you also need to know what your student has at stake. High school Title IX charges are serious for several reasons. First, because they involve sexual misconduct in one form or another, Title IX findings and discipline can carry serious, even lifelong, consequences for the accused student. In the worst case, Title IX charges, hearings, and evidence could trigger criminal charges. But even where the alleged Title IX misconduct does not involve a sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, or other crime, Title IX findings and discipline can carry implications of sexual deviance and dangerous character.

Those implications can ruin a high school student's self-esteem and ambitions. They can also close doors to opportunities for education, jobs, careers, and relationships. A high school student has the student's whole future in front of the student. That future should include further education that develops the student's knowledge, skills, and character, jobs and careers that support and reward the student, and social, marital, or other close relationships that sustain the student. Title IX findings and discipline can change the student's trajectory away from all of those expectations and rewards and down less fruitful paths. High school experiences shape basic character. Ignoring and losing a Title IX disciplinary proceeding in high school does not positively shape student character.

Why Hire a Title IX Defense Lawyer

With so much required for an effective Title IX defense, and with so much on the line for the high school student accused of Title IX misconduct, the reasons for hiring a skilled and experienced Title IX defense lawyer become rather obvious. Think about it. If your student had a major illness or serious injury, you would leave the diagnosis and treatment to your student or yourself. You would, of course, retain doctors and specialists who know how to treat for the best outcome.

The same is true for a Title IX charge. A Title IX charge against your high school student is very serious, equivalent in its own way to a major illness or serious injury because of the long-term negative impact the charge could have on your student. You wouldn't leave your student's major illness or serious injury untreated. Nor would you entrust your student's medical treatment to an untrained friend or acquaintance. So, in dealing with a high school Title IX charge, don't leave your student's future to chance. Instead, get the expert professional help that your student needs to continue to grow, mature, and flourish.

The Right Kind of Lawyer to Hire

The kind of lawyer you hire, though, makes a big difference. The above discussion should have made crystal clear that not any lawyer will do. Lawyers share a certain amount of legal training. But law schools don't generally require courses in administrative law. Law students can graduate without having studied Title IX or any of its complex procedural regulations. Law students can also graduate without having studied administrative law. In fact, relatively few lawyers practice administrative law. Most law practice is transactional, like contracts, real estate sales and closing, and trusts and estates, or involves court litigation in business disputes, family disputes, and criminal courts.

None of that ordinary law practice prepares a lawyer for academic administrative Title IX defense. Academic administrative proceedings are not much like court proceedings. Academic administrative proceedings do not follow court rules for civil or criminal procedure, what litigating lawyers consider to be their professional Bible. Academic administrative proceedings generally don't even apply the ordinary evidence rules that nearly every lawyer studies in law school. Academic administrative proceedings instead follow a few published rules but more so track with academic administrative traditions and customs. To know those customs, an attorney must practice in academic administrative proceedings. Attorneys learn academic administrative law primarily by doing it rather than studying it.

For these reasons, a local general practitioner lawyer is generally the wrong kind of lawyer for a high school student facing Title IX charges and the student's concerned parents to hire. So, too, are traditional criminal defense lawyers, and of course, trusts and estate lawyers, real estate lawyers, business lawyers, divorce lawyers, and personal injury lawyers, are also generally the wrong kind of lawyers to hire for Title IX defense. To be effective in specialized fields, lawyers must specialize. Many lawyers practice in the above common fields. Only a few lawyers develop boutique practices in specialized fields such as Title IX defense that require years of work in the proverbial trenches.

For these reasons, you need to hire for your high school student's Title IX defense a skilled and experienced Title IX academic administrative attorney. Because very few of those attorneys exist, you will likely need to go outside of your local area for that attorney. Attorneys with those specialized Title IX defense skills must generally build and maintain national, rather than local, practices. You thus shouldn't be at all concerned about hiring a national Title IX defense attorney. Indeed, just the opposite is true: hiring a national Title IX defense attorney will not only gain your high school student the necessary knowledge and skills. It will also show your student's high school disciplinary officials that you and your student are taking the Title IX charge so seriously as to mount an aggressive defense. You can do no better for your high school student than to retain a national Title IX defense attorney to defend and defeat your student's Title IX charges.

National Title IX Defense Attorney Available

National Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm represent high school students nationwide. They are able to do so because Attorney Lento has, over many years, developed the refined knowledge and honed skills to be remarkably successful in difficult Title IX defense. Fortunately, you need not worry about finding a skilled and experienced Title IX defense attorney. Attorney Lento is available to represent your student at a high school anywhere in the United States. Attorney Lento has helped hundreds of high school and other students nationwide defeat and overcome false and exaggerated Title IX charges. Trust Attorney Lento for your high school student's best Title IX defense. Attorney Lento knows the value of a high school student's future and the harm that Title IX discipline can do to that future. Attorney Lento commits his law practice to defending students against Title IX charges. Call 888.535.3686 or contact Attorney Lento 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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