Title IX, according to the Education Amendments of 1972, is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on gender in school and colleges. All private and public schools, whether elementary, secondary/high school, or college, that receive any Federal subsidies are subject to Title IX.
Under Title IX, discrimination based on gender can include sexual harassment and violence like assault, rape, or sexual pressure. Title IX also requires fairness in regards to funding for student athletics, such as equitable scholarships and equipment. In recent years, Title IX has been used as a way to address sexual assault and rape on college grounds.
Title IX doesn’t just apply to students. It applies to faculty and staff as well. Thus, Title IX allegations against school employees can be filed and investigated by schools. Regardless of what triggers a Title IX investigation, it’s important that both the accused and the accuser seek help from legal counsel. These investigations are much different from criminal trials, so a lawyer is crucial in helping you know your rights and navigate through the process.
Students, or even employees, who have been accused may feel ill-equipped to defend themselves, even if they are innocent. The investigation process can vary from school to school. This is why it is important to hire an attorney, as they can act as a trusted advisor. A lawyer can familiarize themselves with your school’s process, prepare a defense strategy, and in some schools, may even be able to speak on your behalf. If you are the one filing a complaint, an attorney can help you follow the proper steps and help you build a strong complaint. If you are accused, an attorney can fight for due process on your behalf.
The consequences of Title IX complaints can be severe. For the accused, it can lead to expulsion, suspension, and/or a ruined reputation. That’s why it’s important students and staff don’t take this law lightly and consult legal counsel when applicable. Under Title IX, the Department of Education directs that schools and colleges should have a “prompt and equitable” method for settling accusations of sexual harassment or aggression. The education department has likewise given guidelines for what this ought to look like. Colleges are keen to follow these guidelines so they don’t lose any government funding in the forms of grants, financial aid, and other sorts of financial assistance. Part of the law requires all schools to have at least one employee designated as a “Title IX Coordinator.”
Regardless of whether your school permits a lawyer to speak on your behalf or not, having an advisor familiar with Title IX is recommended. By getting a lawyer involved early, it’s possible your Title IX complaint can be escalated and challenged. For example, in the event that you are expelled because of an unfair arbitration measure, a lawyer may be able to help you appeal to an actual court based on the process followed by your school.