College campuses frequently deal with complicated legal problems when accusations of wrongdoing occur. Title IX and college disciplinary procedures are the main frameworks controlling student behavior in these circumstances. Notwithstanding their occasional overlap, these procedures have different functions. College disciplinary procedures deal with transgressions of the code of conduct, which include various actions. On the other hand, Title IX expressly attempts to stop sexism in educational settings. Students aware of these differences can better negotiate these procedures, safeguarding their rights and obtaining just results. Get in touch with our Los Angeles criminal attorneys at the Law Office of Sara L. Caplan for help with these proceedings.

What are College Disciplinary and Title IX Proceedings?

College campuses work hard to create environments that support students' intellectual and personal development. However, accusations of wrongdoing have the potential to sabotage this culture. Thus, dealing with them requires defined procedures. Title IX proceedings and college disciplinary procedures are the two main frameworks that govern these circumstances.

Disciplinary Proceedings

College disciplinary proceedings deal with violations of the institution’s code of conduct, including disruptive behavior, vandalism, bullying, and academic dishonesty. Every institution has its own set of guidelines for handling disciplinary matters.

Further, students facing disciplinary action have the right to know about the accusations, provide proof, and have a fair hearing.

Title IX

Conversely, Title IX procedures deal with claims of sex discrimination. They encompass sexual assault, harassment, and dating violence. These complaints follow the federal criteria issued by the Department of Education. They guarantee equity and fairness for both the respondent and the complainant. Both parties have the right to notice, the presentation of evidence, and a hearing, just like in disciplinary processes. Nevertheless, depending on the particular Title IX policy of the college, the burden of proof can change.

There may be overlap between these two procedures. Certain misconduct violations might fall under the code of conduct and Title IX. For example, under both systems, an allegation of sexual assault would probably result in an investigation. Significantly, Title IX offers students who have encountered sex discrimination more extensive safeguards.

In college disciplinary processes, a committee of faculty and staff members, a single dean, or a mix of the two may hear the case. On the other hand, Title IX complaints are usually addressed by a specific body that differs depending on the college. This body could consist of a panel of experts specially versed in Title IX processes or just one qualified official.

Further, legal representation during your college disciplinary hearing is not required. However, having legal representation throughout the process is an ideal choice. An attorney can help gather evidence to support your case, advise you on your rights, and defend you at the hearing.

Sexual-Based Allegations

Allegations of sexual misconduct on campus carry serious repercussions for both the responding student (accused) and the complaining student (accuser). Since there can be a considerable emotional cost, finding the truth through a just and fair process is crucial. The accused also risks facing criminal charges, which open the possibility of imprisonment, fines, and mandatory registration as a sex offender if convicted. Title IX is essential to accomplishing this.

Per Title IX, every accusation must be thoroughly and objectively investigated. Investigators' top priority is obtaining evidence to separate fact from fabrication. The objective is to arrive at a decision free from prejudice or conjecture and supported by verifiable facts. The Title IX hearing process guarantees a fair and impartial hearing for both the accuser and the accused. Both parties are open to presenting their case and any pertinent evidence.

Cases involving sexual assault pose specific difficulties, mainly when consent is ambiguous. The location of the claimed assault and the notion of consent are the two main concerns that keep coming up.

Many institutions claim jurisdiction over occurrences involving their students, regardless of where they occur, even though the location (on or off campus) can be a factor. This larger scope is in line with the institution's obligation to protect the health and safety of its students.

In circumstances of sexual assault, however, the definition of consent is much more critical. Frequently, common interpretations of consent do not meet the legal requirement. Several colleges define consent as both parties' deliberate and informed choice to participate in sexual activity. This definition goes beyond "yes" or "no" responses.

The details are where the complexity lies:

  • Mutual understanding — Communication is critical. Clear language or deeds that make it obvious that you are willing to participate in sexual behavior are required to convey consent. It is incorrect to interpret inactivity, silence, or lack of opposition as consent.
  • Clarity on activity — It is imperative that both parties understand precisely what kind and how much sexual activity they are consenting to. This means keeping lines of communication open throughout the interaction to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Intoxication — Consent cannot be granted if drugs impair one or both parties to the extent that they are unable to make informed decisions. The same goes for getting consent. Coercion, threats, or pressure will not work.

Keep in mind that consent is a continuous process. It is withdrawable at any time while engaging in sexual activities.

Your Rights Under Title IX

Title IX protects against many forms of sex discrimination against employees and students at educational institutions that receive government funding. The main safeguards include:

  • Preventing discrimination based on sex — Title IX prohibits sexual assault, harassment, and other misbehavior based on sexual orientation. Regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, it ensures equal chances in all educational programs and activities.
  • Maintaining gender equality — Title IX does more than shield women from discrimination. It forbids discrimination against men and guarantees equality for transgender people.
  • Preventing retaliation — Title IX ensures that making a complaint or participating in an investigation will not have any adverse effects. It shields people from reprisals and prohibits educational institutions from punishing students for exercising their rights by suspending them, deducting their grades, or limiting their ability to participate in sports.

Frequently Asked Questions About Title IX

Let us look at some frequently asked questions whose answers will provide more information about Title IX.

Who is Eligible to File a Title IX Claim?

The criteria for filing a Title IX petition include many victims of sexual misconduct. Among them are:

  • Students — The majority of people who make Title IX allegations are students. If they have experienced gender-based violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, or any other type of sex discrimination, including uneven access to school programs or activities, students can exercise their rights.
  • Staff — If they encounter sex-based discrimination, school employees, instructors, and administrators could also bring Title IX allegations. A hostile work environment based on sexual orientation, unfair compensation, or rejection of promotions are a few examples.
  • Prospective students — Those who submitted an application for a course or program and felt they experienced sex-based discrimination in the admissions process could also be qualified to submit a Title IX claim.

The safeguards provided by Title IX go further. They encompass people of all genders, including transgender workers and students, guaranteeing diversity within the learning environment. In certain instances, people who witness or experience sexual harassment or violence could also file supportive claims with the original complainant. This may offer more assistance or provide pertinent data for the inquiry.

What are the Reporting Timelines?

Every college and university has its own Title IX complaint procedures and deadlines. As soon as you can, check your school's Title IX office or website to learn about the specific regulations for your institution.

Keep in mind that criminal law and Title IX function separately. There is no deadline by law for when a police complaint should be filed, even though California law enforcement advocates prompt reporting of sexual assault for investigative purposes.

Delays might present difficulties, even though schools must conduct a comprehensive investigation regardless of the reporting deadline. Evidence could disappear, and memories could fade. This could hurt the case. Delays in reporting can also make it more difficult for the accuser to receive the remedies Title IX offers.

When You Receive Notification of a Filed Title IX Claim Against You, What Actions Should You Take?

Dealing with a Title IX claim can be unsettling. Here is how to handle the situation effectively:

Remain Calm and Gather Details

Even if the accusations appear ambiguous, maintain your composure and resist the need to confess. Admissions or panic may have a detrimental effect. The Title IX office at your institution will formally communicate the specifics of the claim against you. Carefully review this document to understand the accusations.

Work Within Constraints and Get Ready to Defend Yourself

Although you are not required to confess, you must assist the school in its inquiry. You should submit pertinent information or documentation. Your attorney will help you with this.

Keep Things Private and Prioritize Your Well-being

It is best not to discuss the accusations with anyone except your lawyer, immediate family, or reliable friends. Speaking publicly about the matter could endanger the investigation and harm your reputation.

Understand the Procedure of the Proceedings

Learn about your school's standard operating procedures for conducting Title IX investigations. A basic understanding of the procedure can help reduce some doubt and fear.

What Is the Procedure Followed in a Title IX Proceeding?

Upon receiving a formal complaint, the school initiates the investigation by informing you of the allegations and your rights. This includes the right to have an advisor present during meetings, although the advisor cannot speak on your behalf. The investigator then gathers evidence from both sides, encompassing witness statements, relevant documents, or any other materials that shed light on the situation. This criterion indicates a more than 50% chance that a violation occurred. Keep in mind that Title IX inquiries operate independently of criminal investigations. The police have a greater burden of proof "beyond a reasonable doubt." The officers will use their processes when investigating reports of suspected crimes from the school.

The outcome of a Title IX investigation may have far-reaching repercussions. If a violation is discovered, the school will suggest penalties that, depending on how serious the offense was, could include expulsion, probation, or a warning.

Can I File an Appeal After a Decision is Made in a Title IX Proceeding?

According to federal laws, universities must offer a fair and expeditious procedure for resolving Title IX complaints. If a student is unhappy with the outcome, the process frequently includes an appeals mechanism. Students must contemplate this choice and understand the grounds for appeal and the appeals procedure itself.

Three primary categories are usually the subject of appeals in Title IX proceedings, namely:

  • You can file an appeal if there are factual errors — You can contest the investigator's judgment through the appeals process if you think it was based on inaccurate information or inaccuracies.
  • You can challenge the proportionality of the punishment — If you believe the sentence does not fairly reflect the seriousness of the accused misconduct, you can argue for a lighter sentence.
  • An appeal may be based on recently uncovered evidence — This could include material that emerged later and could have a big influence on the judgment, or it could include evidence not available during the first investigation.

You have a tight deadline to appeal, usually 5 to 10 days after receiving the ruling. Ignoring this deadline can make an appeal much more difficult or impossible.

Consult the following resources to navigate the appeals process successfully:

  • Title IX policy of the school — To learn about the appeals procedure, consult the college's policy paper or webpage. Search for phrases like "review process," "grievance procedures," or "appeals."
  • Title IX Coordinator — For the most up-to-date and precise information about your institution's appeals procedure and deadlines, contact the Title IX Coordinator or the office.

If the appeal is successful, the original consequences can change. Following a Title IX judgment, you can decide how to proceed by knowing the grounds for appeal and using these methods to obtain pertinent information.

Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Navigating Title IX and disciplinary procedures at universities can be difficult and confusing. Even if these procedures try to be equitable, navigating them by yourself may be too much. It is critical to know your rights and what to do, particularly if you are the target of an accusation or feel that a decision was unfair.

The Law Office of Sara L. Caplan is a great resource if you are a student in Los Angeles dealing with a disciplinary or Title IX concern. Our attorneys are committed to defending your rights. Contact us at 310-550-5877 for further assistance.