Title IX Investigations
A Title IX investigation is a fact-finding mission to examine allegations or complaints related to gender-based harm at federally funded colleges and universities. These schools are required to comply with Title IX and to investigate reports of gender-based incidents thoroughly. Title IX states:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
These investigations look for policy violations, and it is the school’s responsibility to determine whether a reported incident violated their policies. Law enforcement is tasked with determining whether the alleged incident violated the law. Without a school responding rapidly and conducting a fair investigation, they risk losing all federal funding. The Title IX investigation coordinator may be required to work closely with law enforcement based on the type of violation.
If you are targeted in a Title IX investigation, there is no question that your reputation could be irreparably damaged, among other consequences such as being arrested and charged for a sex offense.
How does a Title IX investigation work?
The process moves through several critical steps, as follows:
Notification to involved parties that a complaint exists and that an investigation will be initiated. The parties notified must be informed about the process, the rights of the involved parties, and the allegations of a gender-based violation.
The investigation process requires gathering all relevant facts, which may include documents, email, audio, video, social media posts, mobile phone records, and other information. The complainant and the respondent are interviewed, as well as others who may be witnesses to the alleged violation.
The facts collected must be presented to both the complainant and the respondent, providing those parties with at least ten days to review the information. If either party feels there is a discrepancy, this can be addressed.
An entirely separate individual must make the determination of whether a violation has occurred. Two standards are used in making this determination:
- The preponderance of evidence: This standard is that enough evidence exists to determine it is more likely than not that a violation took place.
- Clear and convincing evidence: This standard is used when the evidence establishes that the allegations are substantially more likely to be true.
A report is then issued, which outlines the allegations, the policy violated, the parties in the case, the evidence, including a summary of the evidence.
The final report must be given to the parties involved at least ten days prior to its finalization to leave time for a response.
After the investigation
Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to appeal the decision and request a review. If no appeal is requested, sanctions are imposed, and the Title IX office is required to advise of the various counseling options available. They also have the option to pass the information to law enforcement if a criminal act was found to have taken place.
Title IX Compliances
Both parties in these investigations have equal rights that must be upheld during a Title IX investigation, and the process must be fair and impartial.
The policy regarding prohibiting sex discrimination must be broadly distributed, available, and accessible to the school community, typically published online and in print in handbooks and as a code of conduct.
Hickey & Chung: Title IX investigations in the Bay Area
At Hickey & Chung, we represent accused students or faculty members in the Title IX disciplinary process. Ensuring you have the protection of an experienced attorney cannot be overstated. Protecting your rights and reputation are of utmost importance.
Our legal team
Ms. Chung has extensive experience representing accused students and faculty in Title IX disciplinary proceedings. She is the recipient of several honors and distinctions and is a member of the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) panel for the Northern District of California.
Mr. Hickey is a Harvard Law School graduate and member of the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) panel for the Northern District of California and an instructor for the Northern District federal defense bar. Mr. Hickey is on the faculty of Thammasat University, through the University of California Education Abroad Program, and Maastricht University in the Netherlands.