Title IX FAQ
Understand Your Rights & Options Under Title IX
Title IX is a complex law that plays a vital role in misconduct allegations, affecting millions of students throughout the country. If you are facing accusations of misconduct, Title IX will certainly affect your situation. In these situations, it is in your best interest to work closely with an attorney or advisor who is knowledgeable about Title IX.
Many of our clients come to us with questions about their rights and options. We are happy to address those questions and have done so below in our FAQ. If you still have questions after reading our FAQ, do not hesitate to contact our firm.
What is Title IX?
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity (Source: U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Civil Rights (2015) Title IX and Sex Discrimination).
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires every school to investigate claims of sexual misconduct against students. Students facing discipline for misconduct could be punished with dismissal from the school, an interruption in their course of study, and harm to their reputation. On top of a student disciplinary investigation, the student could even face a criminal investigation or prosecution.
Should I contact a lawyer if I am accused of campus misconduct involving sexual assault or domestic violence?
Yes. If you are accused of this conduct, you should contact a lawyer immediately to protect your educational status and to protect yourself in any parallel criminal investigation or prosecution.
What kind of lawyer should I contact?
Contact a lawyer who is admitted to practice law in the state or jurisdiction where your school is located. Choose a lawyer who understands Title IX, VAWA, and your school’s rules and procedures. It would also be helpful if that attorney is experienced in the criminal representation of persons charged with an assaultive offense.
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 (i.e. no other logical explanation can be derived from the evidence except the defendant’s guilt).
What is the Violence Against Women Act?
The Violence Against Women Act, also known as VAWA, is an amendment to the Clery Act, which requires the disclosure of campus security policies and campus crime statistics. VAWA prescribes standards for the investigation and conduct of student discipline proceedings in domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking cases.
What are the differences between Title IX and VAWA?
There are substantial differences between the two Acts. Title IX focuses on eliminating gender inequality in educational settings while Clery/VAWA is primarily an Act focused on crime statistic reporting. There is significant overlap, however.
One critical distinction in the areas of overlap is that VAWA moves beyond Title IX (at least as interpreted by Office of Civil Rights guidance documents) and expands a college or university’s obligation to investigate beyond sexual harassment/assault and into allegations of domestic violence and dating violence. It is easy to suppose that Title IX rules apply to investigations brought under the auspices of VAWA – but they do not. For example, while Title IX requires the use of a “Preponderance of the Evidence” standard, VAWA does not prescribe an evidentiary standard. This could prove to be a critical difference if a school chooses to elevate their standard of proof in domestic/dating violence cases.
How can I contact Parisi, Coan & Saccocio, PLLC for Title IX assistance?
What fees do you charge?
For most cases we charge an hourly fee and work off of retainer. To obtain more details please contact our office.