No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for enforcing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX is meant to protect people from discrimination based on sex (gender) in educational programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. Sexual assault is one form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX.
Title IX applies to institutions that receive some form of federal financial assistance. These institutions include approximately 16,500 local school districts, 7,000 postsecondary institutions, as well as charter schools, for-profit schools, libraries, and museums.
The School’s Bias
The Department of Education has told schools that it takes allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault very seriously. If a student complains about rape on campus and the school doesn't handle the situation aggressively, the school can be sued, and the Department of Education can start a lengthy, and expensive, investigation of the school, which could result in the loss of all federal funding to a school - including money for federal student loans and money for faculty research. Therefore, the school's interest is not in being fair, nor in protecting the due process rights of an accused that we all expect. The school is not trying to ensure that the truth comes out. Rather, the school is trying to make sure it protects itself.
Inform Your Parents, and Retain an Attorney
Too often students who are accused of serious misconduct in a student disciplinary proceeding keep silent. They naïvely believe that if they just tell their version of what happened, everything will work out fine.
This is a mistake.
Instead, one should prepare for a process that may contradict everything one believes about how a fair, transparent and unbiased adjudication should be conducted in the United States, and for the shock related to the amount of resources a university can bring to investigate and discipline its own students.
Contact The Slaughter Law Firm to discuss how we can help you navigate through the student disciplinary proceeding, and help you avoid making the same mistake so many others have made.
Your Future in Jeopardy
If the school decides that you sexually assaulted another student, that decision can follow you for the rest of your life.
A school can expel you or suspend you if you are found “guilty” of sexual assault on campus. The school can put a mark on your transcript. If it does, every school you apply to in the future, such as a transfer, post-graduate program, law school, or medical school, may see that you were found “guilty” of sexual assault. The school can, accordingly, ruin your future, sometimes without ever calling the police.
These consequences often reduce to nothing more than your word against the complainant’s. And, for a school to find you “guilty,” they need only to believe the complainant a little bit more than they believe you.
A Disciplinary Action is NOT Handled Like a Criminal Case
A disciplinary investigation and hearing bear little resemblance to the criminal justice system. In a university disciplinary proceeding, you don't have the same rights as in a courtroom. For example:
You aren't presumed innocent;
You may not, and probably do not, get to ask questions of the person who is accusing you;
The “burden of proof” in a disciplinary hearing is most often by a “preponderance of the evidence” (often referred to as 51%) rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt” as used in the criminal justice system;
The school may not have to tell you what evidence they have against you;
You can be found guilty if they just think her version is more likely than yours.
Your right to appeal may be severely limited, or may not exist at all.
Your judges may be biased against you.
Retain an Experienced Former Prosecutor to Handle Your Case
If you are accused of campus misconduct involving sexual assault or domestic violence, you should contact The Slaughter Law Firm immediately to discuss protecting your educational status and your future, and to protect yourself during any parallel criminal investigation or prosecution.
TITLE IX FAQ
What is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits any educational institution that receives federal financial assistance (such as grants or student loans) from discriminating on the basis of sex (i.e. gender).
Are all school districts, colleges, and universities covered by Title IX?
Generally, yes. All public school districts, public colleges and universities, and virtually all private colleges and universities are covered by Title IX because they receive some form of federal financial assistance and operate educational programs, for example, by participating in federal student aid programs. Title IX does not apply to some private institutions because they do not receive any federal assistance. Additionally, some schools are specifically exempt from certain parts of Title IX, such as an educational institution that is controlled by a religious organization, but only to the extent the application of Title IX would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.
Are all programs in a school, college, or university covered by Title IX if any part of it receives federal financial assistance?
Yes. Title IX covers all the operations of a school or college that receives financial assistance, including academics, extracurricular activities, athletics, and other programs. Title IX applies to actions of a school or college regardless of where they occur, including those that take place in the facilities of the school, on a school bus, at a class or training program sponsored by the school at another location, or elsewhere off campus.
Does Title IX protect only students?
No. Title IX protects all persons from discrimination, including parents and guardians, students, and employees.
What is sex-based harassment?
Sex-based harassment can take multiple forms. Harassers can be students, school staff, or even someone visiting the school, such as a student or employee from another school. Sexual harassment (including sexual violence) and gender-based harassment are forms of sex-based harassment.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
What is Sexual Violence?
Sexual violence is a form of sexual harassment. Sexual violence, as OCR uses the term, refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent (e.g., due to the student’s age or use of drugs or alcohol, or because an intellectual or other disability prevents the student from having the capacity to give consent). A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual coercion.
What is Gender-Based Harassment?
Gender-based harassment is unwelcome conduct based on a student’s actual or perceived sex. It includes slurs, taunts, stereotypes, or name-calling, as well as gender-motivated physical threats, attacks, or other hateful conduct.
What are the responsibilities of school districts, colleges, and universities under Title IX to address sex-based harassment?
Title IX requires an educational institution to respond to sex-based harassment that is sufficiently serious to deny or limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the recipient’s education programs and activities (i.e., creates a hostile environment).
When an educational institution knows or reasonably should know of possible sex-based harassment, it must take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred. If an investigation reveals that the harassment created a hostile environment, the educational institution must take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the harassment, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent its recurrence, and, as appropriate, remedy its effects.
Why do colleges and universities investigate sexual harassment and sexual assault?
Under Title IX, schools that wish to retain federal funding are required to investigate any allegation of sexual harassment or assault that occurs in their programs and activities. In some cases, this includes off-campus locations.
What due process protections am I afforded if I am charged with campus misconduct involving sexual assault?
Not a lot or none at all. Whatever “due process” that is afforded does not remotely compare to the due process protections provided to persons accused of the same conduct in criminal courts. Public universities must provide some due process protections. Private colleges and universities are only obligated to provide the “process” promised in their student disciplinary guidelines.
What is the standard of proof that colleges and universities apply to their investigations and determinations of sexual assault claims? How does that compare to the standard of proof in criminal cases?
The standard of proof applied by colleges and universities in Title IX investigations is “Preponderance of the Evidence.” This is one of the lowest standards of proof (i.e. the greater weight of the evidence). The standard of proof applied in criminal cases is proof “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.” This is the highest burden of proof (e.g. no other logical explanation can be derived from the evidence except the defendant’s guilt).
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