Title IX Defense Lawyers in Charlottesville, VA
A lot has changed in the world since 1972. That is the year that the Office for Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education first passed Title IX to prevent discrimination on gender alone. Specifically, the legislation prohibited colleges, high schools, and other educational institutions from discriminating against someone in education or extra-curricular activities based solely on whether that person is male or female.
Title IX only applies to activities or programs fully or partially funded by the government. This includes post-secondary institutions and school districts as well as museums, libraries, for-profit schools, and charter schools. All educational programs receiving federal funding must not discriminate based on gender in the following areas:
- financial assistance
- treatment of pregnant students or students with minor children
- single-sex education
Additionally, a person representing an agency that receives federal funds may not retaliate against a student, faculty member, or other person who complains about an unlawful practice in education or who testified or otherwise participated in a complaint action.
Understanding the 2011 Amendment to Title IX
Nearly 40 years after the original passage of Title IX, the Office for Civil Rights amended the original Title IX to include a provision for sexual violence called a Dear Colleague Letter. As the letter explained, schools and other organizations receiving federal funding have a legal and moral obligation to respond to any claims made about sexual violence on campus. The passage of this portion of Title IX means that schools must investigate any claims received independent of an investigation made by local police.
Defining School Sexual Violence
The Dear Colleague Letter of Title IX refers only to sexual violence between students such as assault, rape, or another type of misconduct that prevents the victim from fully participating in an educational program. The school administration is guilty of a Title IX violation if it fails to investigate claims of sexual violence and enforce corrective action against the perpetrator. This could subject the school to the potential loss of federal funds as well as other punishments. The penalties for the person accused of sexual misconduct on campus can be severe.
Unfortunately, some schools rush to accuse a student of wrongdoing to take the focus off the administration. This can cause significant hardship when the accused person is not guilty. Although it’s right and fair that schools should investigate all sexual misconduct allegations and conduct hearings, it’s equally important that both investigations and hearings are fair to the accused person.
Possible Outcomes of an Improper Investigation or Hearing
Usually, and understandably, a school administration office wants to avoid appearing unsympathetic to sexual assault victims, or to seem like it covered up the crimes of an assailant. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s okay to rush procedure and accuse someone of a crime that he or she didn’t commit. Sometimes the accused person doesn’t even have the chance to question the alleged victim in front of the hearing board or question witnesses to the crime. This situation can lead to the student facing expulsion from the university even when the local police declined to press charges in the case.
The expelled student, who is typically male, has the legal right to also claim a violation of Title IX when such a situation occurs. The consequences of an expulsion can follow a person for years. If you’re currently facing this situation, you may find that other universities assume you committed the crime you’re accused of and won’t accept you as a transfer student. When no school will allow you to complete your degree, it could severely limit your future job prospects and ability to earn an income.
Keep in mind that sexual misconduct means more than rape or assault. You could face expulsion or other profound consequences if you’re found guilty of stalking or sexual harassment as well. This can come down to a matter of personal interpretation when you and your accuser have different views of the type of behavior that constitutes a crime.
Hire a Title IX Defense Attorney as Quickly as Possible
You have the right to have legal counsel present at your disciplinary hearing and we highly recommend that you exercise this right. At St. John, Bowling, Lawrence & Quagliana, LLP, we will work with you to obtain the following:
- Collect additional evidence that proves your version of events
- Consider a variety of defenses for the sexual crime you’re accused of committing
- Question your accuser or accusers as well as any witnesses
- Obtain official statements from witnesses
- Understand the official consent policy at your school to determine if you really did breach it
When something as serious as your future is on the line at a Title IX disciplinary hearing, you can’t take the chance of representing yourself. The victim, his or her attorney, and school administrators will all be there attempting to discredit any evidence you give to the contrary. It’s much too easy to be intimidated by the people and the process when you don’t have an experienced attorney on your side.
Our law firm is also available to represent you when you believe that your school has violated your rights under Title IX by not completing a thorough investigation that would have proven your innocence. We will help you explore several potential options, including suing the university for improper punishment and damage to your reputation.
Title IX Cases Are Often Complicated
Although federal law allows you to sue as a private party for injunctive relief and monetary damages, doing so is often more complex than you might expect. As experienced civil rights defense attorneys in Charlottesville, Virginia, we have represented hundreds of people facing the same types of charges as you. We understand the regulations, defenses, and other special nuances of Title IX and will use this deep knowledge to your advantage. Please contact us at 434-296-7138 to request a free legal review of your case today.