Students at educational institutions that receive federal funds are subject to Title IX, which is a federal law that governs investigations of suspected gender discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation.
It is not an exaggeration to say that your academic future is on the line when you are facing misconduct charges under Title IX. Although Title IX cases are administrative, you could find yourself expelled or suspended from your school and potentially facing criminal charges.
You are entitled to a lawyer throughout the Title IX process, and you absolutely need one. Contact the experienced Title IX attorneys at Shealey Law Firm in Columbia to discuss your case.
What Title IX Is and How It Works
Title IX is a shorthand reference to a section of the Education Amendments of 1972. It is a civil rights law that applies to educational institutions. Surprisingly, the law itself consists of only 37 words. The law simply states:
“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.”
However, the “teeth” of the law are found in the numerous regulations and the investigatory process to which you are subjected. There is an intricate process and rules that the school must follow.
The federal government is allowed to attach strings to money that it supplies. In this case, if a school receives funds from the federal government, it must apply Title IX as a condition. The government can take enforcement action against the school, which could involve a loss of funding.
Possible Investigations Under Title IX
Title IX is intended to protect against the following:
- Sex discrimination in admissions decisions or financial aid
- Sexual harassment in school
- Sexual violence
- Disparities in funding
- Retaliation or threats against people in connection with a Title IX investigation
With regard to students, the most common charges that they face relate to sexual misconduct, both harassment and alleged violence.
The Title IX Investigation Process Works
The Title IX process begins when you are accused by someone else. When someone files a formal complaint, the school is legally required to investigate.
The school must investigate to some extent, regardless of the substance of the allegations.
Key steps in the Title IX investigative process include:
- You would be notified of the investigation and that someone has filed a formal complaint.
- The school will assign an investigator to gather evidence. The investigator may seek to interview you at some point.
- You can submit your own evidence on your behalf, including an expert witness report.
- If the complaint has not been dismissed, the school would hold a hearing, where you would be questioned and present witnesses, and your attorney can cross-examine witnesses testifying against you.
- The investigator would reach their conclusions about whether the allegations have been substantiated, and they would write a report.
- If the investigator believes that the allegations have been substantiated, the school would notify you of discipline.
- You have the right to appeal the findings and punishment.
What to Do When You Are Being Investigated Under Title IX
While the law requires that you receive due process, you cannot always count on a fair investigation. The educational institution may have its own motivations come into play.
For example, your case may have received media attention, and the school fears for its own reputation. The school may not want to be perceived as a place where students are unsafe. In addition, the federal government can take action against an educational institution if they violate Title IX, so the school may be more afraid of the feds than it is of violating your rights.
The result is that the process may seem unfair, and there could be a rush to judgment. Thus, you cannot trust the process or the protections that the law gives you.
One protection that the law gives you is the right to one advisor during the process. This advisor can be a Title IX defense lawyer. Given the potential punishments, you should retain a Title IX attorney as soon as you learn that you are being investigated.
Here are some other things that you should do if you are being investigated under Title IX:
- Do not speak publicly about the charges or post about them on social media. People may be called to testify against you, so you should also not speak to friends.
- Do not ever speak to an investigator without your attorney present.
- Save all evidence that backs your side of the story and make multiple copies of it. Make sure to give all the evidence to your lawyer. Do not delete or destroy any evidence.
- Write down all your recollections about what did or did not happen as soon as you are notified that you are being investigated. Make a list of anyone who can testify on your behalf.
- Refrain from contacting your accuser under any circumstances. It will only make your situation worse.
You must take the Title IX process seriously. Your education may be at stake. Expulsion or a long suspension are common punishments, and these are things that you cannot afford. You have rights too, and hiring a lawyer can help protect them. At the very minimum, you can tell your own side of the story and present evidence on your behalf.
Call Our Columbia Title IX Defense Lawyers
The Title IX defense lawyers at Shealey Law Firm, LLC have experience representing students in and around Columbia who find themselves being investigated. We understand how difficult the process is, and we do everything we can to guide you through the Title IX process while standing up for your rights.
Don’t try to handle your own case. Speak with our experienced Title IX defense lawyers in Columbia. Send us a message online or call us today at 803-590-3917. We offer free consultations at all times to discuss your case.