Schools that get funding from the federal government are obliged to conduct investigations into incidents of sexual misconduct under Title IX. Also, Title IX requires schools that both the accuser and the accused should get fair treatment. Unfortunately, as schools are under pressure from activists and other parties, some of them may favor the complainant over the defendant and may not afford the latter the same legal protection as the accused during investigations. This is the reason the accused needs an education lawyer near me to help them better understand the complaint they are facing and their legal options. If you are facing a Title IX investigation, here are things you should know:
Should You Appear at a Hearing?
Schools tend to differ in terms of the way they investigate sexual misconduct allegations under Title IX. Some schools do not offer accused students the right to a hearing. Others don’t even let the defendant appeal the decisions made after their investigations. Because of this, the accused student may not be able to effectively present their case, which may result in decision-making based on public pressure. Thankfully, an attorney can give the accused guidance throughout the proceedings and make sure their rights aren’t violated through impartial or improper investigations.
A Title IX investigation should be completed not longer than two months. Otherwise, the accused can challenge the way the school handles the investigation as timely and a violation of the promptness requirement of federal law. Prolonged investigations can damage the accused student’s position because records and witness testimony can become less accurate over time.
During the investigation, the accused students may not be allowed to have a Title IX attorney directly representing them. But schools usually let every party have an advisor present for investigations and hearings. This advisor can give guidance on different matters as the disciplinary process goes on, but cannot speak for the student.
To determine guilt in Title IX proceedings, schools usually use a preponderance of the evidence. To make decisions, schools will make a tribunal or a panel of representatives. Sometimes, they may pick one staff member as a Title IX specialist. This specialist will investigate the case and make the final decision regarding whether or not the accused is guilty of the charges and the penalties they will be subjected to. The Department of Education has been criticizing this approach; however, some schools still use this system. A defendant with an attorney giving them advice can overcome this predicament.