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Title IX is a civil rights statute that prohibits sex discrimination by educational institutions that receive federal funding. The prohibition also applies to sexual harassment or assault by school employees or students. Schools are obligated to investigate allegations of such misconduct and to discipline offenders. As Title IX is not a criminal statute, a person cannot be fined or imprisoned for a violation. Nevertheless, a Title IX disciplinary proceeding can have serious consequences. Anyone facing Title IX charges should have a lawyer representing him or her throughout the process.
For a student, a finding of violation of Title IX can result in academic suspension, loss of scholarships or even expulsion. Such a finding also can make it difficult for the student to gain acceptance into a different school or pursue higher education. For a school employee, a violation may result in suspension or loss of employment and reduction of professional opportunities in the future. One need not be found in violation of Title IX in order to suffer ramifications. A mere allegation of misconduct can cause a person to be ostracized from educational, employment and social communities. Moreover, a Title IX case that alleges sexual assault may trigger a state criminal investigation and prosecution.
Title IX enforcement programs administered by schools offer little protection for the accused. They do not provide all the due process rights enjoyed by criminal defendants, such as the right to a hearing and to cross-examine witnesses. In addition, the school’s disciplinary panel may be far from unbiased. Schools have a vested interest in complying with Title IX regulations in order to preserve their funding. As a result, a panel may give undue deference to a Title IX complainant and may see the case as an opportunity to punish or rid the institution of a student or employee seen as undesirable.
The potential for unfairness in these proceedings makes competent representation critical. Fortunately, the federal government recently amended the Title IX regulations to guarantee the right to counsel. A qualified Title IX lawyer can ensure that a student’s interests are protected and that the school’s own policies are followed. An experienced lawyer is able to collect and evaluate all of the facts and evidence relevant to the case, including any improper motive for bringing charges. Effective defense counsel can point out weaknesses and inconsistencies in the complainant’s testimony and may be able to negotiate a dismissal of the matter or a lesser disciplinary sanction.
Kevin L. Collins, P.C. in San Antonio, Texas has wide experience representing people in Title IX proceedings in and around Bexar County. If you or a family member are facing such a charge, feel free to contact us online or call 210-598-8629 for an initial consultation.