Can an Anonymous Report Initiate a Title IX Investigation?

Anyone who believes a Title IX violation has occurred can file a complaint with the school’s Title IX office. Reports can be made anonymously or made on behalf of another person. Many schools have specific mechanisms for such reporting.

Regardless of how the report is made, you need legal guidance if you learn you are a subject in a Title IX investigation. Parisi, Coan & Saccocio, PLLC advises students and college faculty and staff who are accused of Title IX misconduct.

Title IX is part of the Education Amendments of 1972. This federal law bars sex-based discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal funding. Sexual harassment is included in the definition of discrimination. Discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and retaliation are prohibited conduct.

Anonymous and Third-Party Reports

Anonymous and third-party reporting of potential Title IX violations were addressed in the U.S. Department of Education’s explanation of Title IX 2020 rules.

“Irrespective of whether a report of sexual harassment is anonymous, a recipient [of ED funds] with actual knowledge of sexual harassment or allegations of sexual harassment in an education program or activity of the recipient against a person in the United States, must respond promptly in a manner that is not deliberately indifferent generally and must meet the specific obligations set forth in revised § 106.44(a).”

Anonymous Reports Might Not Be Investigated

Reports that are thin on details may not be investigated at all. When the alleged victim or offender is unknown, the school is limited in the actions it can take. Investigators may not be able to gather the evidence necessary to establish that sexual harassment occurred. Anonymous and third-party reports do not automatically trigger an investigation. Anonymous reports sometimes describe behavior that does not violate Title IX.

School Representative Can Sign Complaints

If the alleged victim files a complaint, the school must investigate. If the alleged victim refuses to file a formal complaint, the Title IX coordinator may file a complaint on behalf of the institution. The Title IX coordinator may also sign the complaint of violations brought forward by a bystander or an anonymous person. A Title IX Coordinator may file a formal complaint even if the complainant is not associated with the school in any way. Complaints signed by the school’s Title IX officials must be investigated.

Investigation Timelines Can Vary Among Schools

Title IX instructs schools to complete their investigations in a prompt manner. There is no specific definition of what constitutes “prompt.” A typical investigation takes about two months but can take considerably longer. No Title IX provision limits how long an educational institution can take to investigate a report of sexual harassment. Complaints can also be made directly to the Office of Civil Rights, bypassing the school’s procedure. Complaints to OCR are generally required to be made within 180 days of the alleged discrimination.

Defending Those Accused of Title IX Misconduct

Our attorneys at Parisi, Coan & Saccocio, PLLC understand the impacts a Title IX investigation can have on the accused. The outcome can affect their educational opportunities or the trajectory of their careers. Our firm focuses solely on defending Title IX clients and ensuring they are treated fairly and without prejudice.

If you are involved in a Title IX case, contact us to schedule a consultation. Call (737) 200-2332 to speak with a member of our skilled legal team. We serve clients from coast to coast.