Title IX

What is Title IX (Title 9; Title Nine)?

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Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”), 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et. seq., is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. All public and private elementary and secondary schools, school districts, colleges and universities that receive any federal funds must comply with Title IX. Title IX applies not only to students, but also to employees and third parties.

What sort of claims are typically brought under Title IX?

Under Title IX, discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual assault, rape, sodomy, sexual misconduct, sexual torture, sex abuse, domestic violence, stalking and any other claim for sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual battery or sexual coercion. In addition, one may also use Title IX to bring discrimination claims involving gender.

If charged, do I need a lawyer?

Absolutely. Once a claim is made, an investigation will occur pursuant to the school’s rules and guidelines. You may be interviewed, your witnesses will be interviewed, the complainant will be interviewed and the complainant’s witnesses will be interviewed. Any and all evidence will bereviewed and made a part of a final report. Evidence could include cell phone records, surveillance videos, photographs, medical and/or psychiatric records if permitted by the party and, of course, witness accounts, among other things. You should be provided a copy of the final report of the investigation.

How can a lawyer help me?

There are many things a lawyer can do in a Title IX case. To begin with, a lawyer can explain the rules of the school conducting the investigation including time limitations and other issues that are important to your defense. The lawyer can meet with your witnesses to evaluate whether their statements support your defense. The lawyer can review the facts and circumstances of the accusation with you to devise a plan for the best possible outcome and can also advise you regarding appeal procedures.

Will criminal charges be brought?

Possibly. Depending on the nature of the accusation and the evidence available to law enforcement, there could be criminal charges brought by either arrest warrant or Grand Jury
indictment; therefore, one should be careful not to make statements without the advice of an attorney. Any statements given by an accused student to school representatives may end up in the hands of law enforcement. Keep in mind that insufficient evidence for criminal charges does not mean there is insufficient evidence for a Title IX investigation.

What is the standard of proof?

Unlike criminal law, where the standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard of proof in a Title IX case is “more likely than not.” Many Title IX investigators have been trained that moving the scales by only the weight of a feather is enough to find the accused student responsible.

What is the punishment?

If you are a college student and found “responsible,” you may face expulsion for an indefinite period suspension from classes and other privileges or activities for a definite period, suspension held in abeyance, restitution, disciplinary probation, a written reprimand, a written warning or an oral admonition. Typically, the punishment will be noted on the student’s permanent record.

What happens if I simply withdraw from school during an investigation?

The investigation will continue without your being present or presenting a defense, and punishment may still be imposed. A letter will be attached to your academic transcript reflecting punishment imposed and that you “withdrew while under investigation for violation of the university’s policy on sexual and gender-based misconduct and other forms of interpersonal violence.”

Can I appeal an adverse decision?

Yes, as long as you file within the stated deadline/timeline set forth by the school involved.