When Title IX was originally passed in 1972, it prohibited sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools. Its purpose was to ensure the same educational opportunities for both men and women. Since then, Title IX has begun to affect a wider realm of standards and regulations. It now considers sexual assault/harassment a form of discrimination, because it theoretically prevents survivors from accessing equal education.
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While some have celebrated this extension of Title IX’s power, others have begun to express concern over its effectiveness. Sexual assault and harassment are crimes, but Title IX investigations and hearings rarely exhibit the same rigor and respect for due process as criminal investigations or trials in a court of law. Researchers have discovered that Title IX investigators are wholly untrained in this field and often use ineffective methods. Furthermore, to reach a guilty verdict, the investigation must only provide a preponderance of evidence, rather than proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Respondents don’t always have the right to an attorney, either.
The Consequences of Flawed Investigations
If schools don’t conduct these investigations, they risk losing federal funding. The government, however, has not provided clear guidelines or protocol, and each school differs in the way it handles allegations. Some schools automatically believe the complainant, while others heavily favor the respondent.
In September, for example, Boston College paid a student $100,000 because the school ignored exculpatory evidence and expelled him for another student’s crime. According to Title IX For All, more than 100 respondents are currently suing schools for denying them due process. Many complainants are coming forward as well, claiming their school’s Title IX investigations were disorganized, inefficient, and highly frustrating.
“They switched the Title IX coordinator in the middle of my process,” one complainant said. She and another woman were represented by Equal Rights Advocates in a Title IX case. “So that meant reinvestigating everything, opening everything up. The statements that I had written before, all the times were wrong. The dates were wrong.”
The goal of any investigation or hearing should always be the truth, and this level of inaccuracy and unaccountability is harmful to both sides of the case. According to Lara Bazelon, a law professor at the University of San Francisco, current systems cannot handle the complexities of Title IX investigations. Furthermore, sexual assault and harassment are incredibly difficult to litigate due to their potentially subjective nature.
“I don't think you'll find anybody who is going to sit here and tell you with a straight face that what we are doing right now with Title IX on college campuses is working,” Bazelon said.
Did Your School Sidestep Your Rights in a Title IX Investigation?
Title IX investigations are conducted by school officials and administrators, rather than formally trained legal professionals. As a result, countless students have been wrongfully expelled and publicly shamed. Respondents, their families, and advocacy groups across the country are pushing for legislative change, and this change may be on the horizon—but for now, our team at Parisi, Coan & Saccocio, PLLC is ready to help you seek justice.
For knowledgeable counsel and aggressive representation, call (737) 200-2332 or schedule your case review today. We look forward to putting our decades of experience to work for your reputation and freedom.