The Rights of Students Under Title IX
Experienced Title IX Attorney in the DC Metro Region, Serving Clients Nationally
If you have been accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX, there is help available. Though the investigative and hearing processes associated with a Title IX violation are not as protective as civil or criminal litigation, respondents are given certain universal rights. In broader terms, students who have been accused of a Title IX violation are entitled to some form of due process of law. Schools must implement their Title IX procedures and policies in a way that is considerate of these rights. Being investigated under Title IX for sexual misconduct? We encourage you to contact Harvey & Binnall, PLLC to speak to a Title IX lawyer at our firm.
Prompt, Fair and Impartial Investigations
Title IX mandates a prompt, fair and impartial investigation and resolution to the dispute at issue. It can be difficult to evaluate whether this requirement is being met, however, as organizations implement different rules and procedures, and the circumstances surrounding the Title IX dispute can vary as well. Ultimately, the question of whether you — the respondent — have been given a prompt, fair and impartial investigation will be fundamentally fact-dependent.
For example, suppose that you have been falsely accused of having sexually assaulted another student in your dorm, after attending a party. If the school takes months or even years to investigate the allegations, it may violate the student’s Title IX or due process rights. Sometimes such delays are allowable (perhaps if many of the witnesses are overseas or in different states), but often they are not. Accused students are entitled to a prompt investigation and adjudication of the charges.
Confidentiality in the Disciplinary Process
The content of the disciplinary process — from the investigation to the hearings — must be kept confidential. The Title IX disciplinary process is a private matter, and as such, the record of the investigation and hearings is protected from public disclosure. If record information is leaked and thereby has a negative impact, you could potentially have a claim against the school for damages.
Presence of an Advisor
Both Title IX complainants and respondents have the right to bring along an advisor to guide them through the disciplinary proceedings (i.e., interviews, investigation, hearings, etc.). This advisor may be selected by the student, but is typically an experienced Title IX attorney, and not just a relative, friend or mentor.
In an effort to resolve the case faster and with as little conflict as possible, the school may attempt to communicate with you — the respondent — about the Title IX violation when you do not have an advisor present. You have a right to refuse to speak to administrators/investigators about the proceedings at issue until you have your advisor present. It is not necessary to speak to representatives of the school or others about the underlying accusations, investigation or processes. Even if you feel that you have a “reasonable” answer to their questions, avoid responding. Sometimes, communications can lead to an unexpected disclosure that undermines your arguments.
Equal Opportunities For Complainant and Respondent
Under Title IX, both the complainant and the respondent must be given equal opportunity with respect to procedures (and other aspects of the disciplinary investigation and subsequent hearings).
For example, if the Title IX complainant is given an opportunity to introduce a witness to provide supportive testimony, then the respondent must be given an equivalent opportunity to cross-examine that witness. Similarly, if the complainant is given an opportunity to introduce a witness, then the respondent must be allowed to introduce potential witnesses as well (assuming that their testimony is relevant, of course).
Despite the simplicity of this equal opportunity requirement, many schools act in ways that undermine the respondent’s ability to take advantage of the same procedural opportunities granted to the complainant. This is not helped by the fact that administrators and investigators are very likely to be influenced by media scrutiny and public pressure to give the accuser justice (even if there is evidence to the contrary).
It is worth noting that equal opportunities to actuate one’s rights under Title IX naturally leads to the imposition of equal limitations. If you are limited in some way, then the complainant must also be limited in a similar fashion. A proven Title IX lawyer can ensure you are treated fairly.
For example, suppose that you (the respondent) are entitled to appeal the decision reached by the Title IX tribunal, but in order to so, you must make a request and receive approval to move forward with the appeals process. On the other hand, the complainant has no such restrictions. They are entitled to appeal the decision without having to go through an additional request-and-approval procedure. That difference would constitute a violation of your rights as the respondent, as it cuts to the core of what is supposed to be a commitment to fundamental fairness and impartiality. When schools fail to abide by these straightforward principles, an experienced Title IX litigator, like the lawyers at Harvey & Binnall, can work to vindicate a student’s rights by filing a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, or by filing a lawsuit in federal or state court.
Contact Harvey & Binnall, PLLC for Assistance from an Experienced Title IX Lawyer
If you (or any of your children) are facing Title IX sexual misconduct allegations, whether in high school or at the university-level, it is important for you to contact an experienced Title IX defense attorney as soon as possible. With the aid of a qualified attorney, you will have the resources and assistance necessary to minimize the risk of having your rights violated over the course of the investigation and hearing processes, and to ultimately prevail in the underlying Title IX dispute.
At Harvey & Binnall, PLLC, our team has decades of combined experience working with those who have been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct. We understand the unique challenges that respondents face, both in the procedural/legal sense and with respect to the real-world implications of the investigation. As such, we work closely with our clients to ensure that they are kept fully informed throughout the process.
Do not delay contacting an experienced Title IX lawyer at Harvey & Binnall. We look forward to speaking with you further.