Allegations of a Title IX violation are extremely serious, even if you believe you are not in the wrong. If you are facing a Title IX accusation, you may quickly learn your procedural, constitutional, and evidentiary rights are limited or even nonexistent. With your reputation and future on the line, you may face substantial challenges unless you develop a thoughtful course of action early on.
We invite you to schedule a call with one of our experienced attorneys, and we will have an initial consultation where we can discuss your unique situation and a potential plan for your matter. In the meantime, put our top ten tips into practice:
1. Obtain an experienced advisor immediately.
If you receive notice of a complaint or a requested no contact order, seek professional help immediately. In our experience, the earlier in the process you seek representation, the better the opportunity you will have to obtain a good or manageable result, potentially avoiding or mitigating the damage of an adverse finding and sanction, which often includes suspension, expulsion, and stigmatizing notations to a student academic record and/or transcript.
2. Review and understand your college’s policies and procedures to know your rights.
Your college’s policies and procedures will be contained in the college’s student handbook, code of conduct, and/or a separate Title IX policy. These materials should be reviewed to get a full understanding of your rights.
3. Be mindful of the purposes of any meetings with the university.
Make sure you understand the purpose of any meeting with the university and whether and when you will be asked to give your side of the story. Any initial meeting with the university should, and usually does, focus on the procedures that will be used and your rights, and not on the facts relating to the underlying complaint.
4. Understand the allegations and your rights before you speak about the underlying facts of your situation.
Before you are interviewed, be sure you understand the process, what you are accused of and by whom, and the nature of the complaint.
5. Take the time you need to prepare for any meeting or interview.
Universities should grant a request for a reasonable extension of time to prepare for any meetings or to give you time to find an advisor. The importance of preparation and taking the time to refresh your memory and ensure accuracy on the details, particularly when time has passed, can make a big difference in the outcome of a complaint. Inconsistencies or inaccuracies, even on details that seem minor, can be used to challenge your credibility.
6. Work with your advisor to identify relevant evidence before you are interviewed.
Consider what witnesses and evidence support your account, including social media posts, direct messages, text messages, and voicemails. Do not rely on your college to gather all of the relevant evidence.
7. Explore informal or alternative resolution options.
Under current Title IX regulations, colleges and universities must offer the option of an informal resolution of any complaint if both parties agree. This may allow the parties to resolve the complaint without the need for a full hearing or the possibility of a finding against the accused student.
8. Understand your appeal rights.
Most college disciplinary procedures allow respondents to appeal a removal from campus or an outcome of a disciplinary proceeding. It is important to know on what bases an appeal can be made and when.
9. Make sure you understand the impact of any allegation or finding on your education record or transcript.
Depending on your college or the law in the state in which it is located, there are instances where policy violations or sanctions will be noted on your transcript. Even if that is not the case, findings of a conduct violation may be shared with third parties, such as graduate schools, because they are part of your education record.
10. Prioritize your mental health and seek support from your network such as family, friends, mental health experts, and/or clergy.
This will be a stressful time and maintaining your support network will be vital. Therapeutic counseling services at your college or university should be confidential. However, if you have any concerns about confidentiality, confirm with your counselor or therapist that anything you say will be kept confidential.
If you’ve been accused of a Title IX allegation, it is important to partner with a firm experienced in Title IX and campus discipline law. Our team is committed to developing and enacting an effective, strategic, and tailored strategy.