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What is Title IX and How Does It Affect Your Son or Daughter?

Title IX By Harvey Binnall PLLC - 2018/05/08 at 07:06pm

Title IX is a federal law dating back to 1972 that prohibits discrimination based on gender in providing access to facilities and programs at schools that receive funding from Washington. It also bans all forms of sexual violence, mandating an investigation that can lead to suspension or expulsion from school, and even the possibility of criminal charges being brought by police.

The process for handling a Title IX violation varies from one school to another because they are not a criminal proceeding. However, when an allegation is made, schools and other education programs must launch an “independent investigation” into whether sexual assault, harassment, stalking, domestic violence and date rape. Each school is allowed to create its own procedure for conducting such a probe and some have established a fair process that protects the rights of both the alleged victim and the accused student.

But far too many colleges and universities have created a process that more closely resembles the arbitrary Salem Witch Hunts rather than an impartial disciplinary proceeding rooted in the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution. Too frequently, the accused is not allowed to confront the supposed victim, hearings are held in secret that excludes a student, their parents or an attorney from participating or even monitoring the proceedings. Everyone accused of a sex-related violation of Title IX is entitled to due process and a vigorous defense. Period. 

Title IX is managed and enforced by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR’s focus on the law has put a strain on higher education because institutions must properly respond to allegations of sexual misconduct or face an investigation that could destroy a school’s reputation. Just look what happened to the University of Michigan after Dr. Larry Nassar, its former sports physician, was convicted of hundreds of counts of sexual violence against female student athletes.

Because of the pressure on schools to conduct investigations or face their own problems, many are becoming increasingly aggressive. As a result, too many are short-circuiting due process. 

Much is at stake from an Title IX allegation: The ability to remain in school or enroll in graduate school, the stigma of being labelled a “sex offender,” even future career prospects. It is critical that an accused student or their parents contact a Title IX defense attorney as soon as they learn that such a proceeding is being undertaken to ensure that the school follows due process and the rights of the accused are protected.

Jesse is an Alexandria VA Title IX defense attorney who has represented students all over the country. Reach him by email at JBinnall@HarveyBinnall.com or by calling 703.888.1843.