Title IX Due Process
Title IX investigations and proceedings use specific due process rules to protect students’ rights and guide investigators and administrators in handling these cases. These guidelines substantially impact the outcome of Title IX cases involving educational institutions. The Mahoney Law Firm, which specializes in Title IX cases, is available to help students and their families navigate the complexities of Title IX due process.
Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Under Title IX, all public and most private schools must enforce standards of equal treatment for all students, regardless of sex. Title IX is important in creating a safe, equal educational environment for students of all ages.
Title IX governs sexual assault and sex discrimination cases in educational institutions and requires specific due process procedures and rules to ensure the fair treatment of all parties involved in investigations.
What Is Title IX Due Process?
Title IX is a law regulated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights that bans discrimination on the basis of sex. Sex discrimination under Title IX includes discrimination based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, and parenting status. Sex-based harassment falls under the law and encompasses sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence.
Under Title IX, educational institutions receiving federal funds must investigate allegations of sexual assault or discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and restore a safe learning environment for the victims. When a student files a complaint alleging sexual assault, institutions must investigate and adjudicate through an established grievance process.
Title IX investigations and proceedings must incorporate principles of due process to ensure the proceedings are fair and equitable. The law provides due process to both accusers and the accused in sexual assault and harassment cases.
According to U.S. Department of Education regulations, a school must meet the following due process requirements:
- Provide written notice of the proceedings to both parties
- Allow both parties to have an advisor present
- Allow both parties the opportunity to submit evidence
- Presume the innocence of the respondent
- Prohibit questions about either party’s sexual history
- Allow either party the opportunity to appeal the decision
These guidelines help prevent Title IX investigations and proceedings from becoming skewed in one party’s favor and allow all the relevant facts and evidence to be submitted. Due process in Title IX cases aims to ensure that all facts are considered, maximizing the probability that a reliable decision is reached when the process concludes.
Title IX due process regulations have been subject to controversy and frequent changes over the past several years. The current administration recently removed the requirement that schools provide the opportunity for a live hearing, including cross-examination of either party.
Additionally, schools are permitted to use the “single investigator model,” which allows one administrator to investigate the matter, determine the accused’s responsibility, and issue sanctions. These changes represent only the most recent guidelines in a series of shifting rules since Title IX was passed 50 years ago.
Title IX Due Process at Mahoney Law Firm
The Mahoney Law Firm, based in Illinois, specializes in handling complex Title IX cases. With a strong track record of helping survivors of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault get justice and compensation, attorney Ryan Mahoney provides an experienced and compassionate approach to Title IX cases.
The Mahoney Law Firm emphasizes an empathetic and individualized approach when taking on Title IX cases with their specific due process rules. The Mahoney Law Firm understands that investigations and hearings in Title IX cases can often be emotionally difficult and traumatic for students and their parents. Having a strong advocate for a student’s due process rights can be instrumental in getting survivors the justice they deserve.
The Mahoney Law Firm has consistently achieved justice and won compensation for sexual violence survivors through Title IX investigations. The firm has a strong track record of ensuring due process compliance in Title IX cases. Attorney Ryan Mahoney’s compassionate and detail-oriented approach to fairness and due process in representing survivors of sexual discrimination has earned him a positive reputation as a victim’s advocate and a spot on the National Trial Lawyers Top 100.
Common Issues in Title IX Due Process
There are some common issues and mistakes in due process that may arise during the handling of Title IX matters. The mishandling of due process in these cases can profoundly impact the fairness and accuracy of the proceedings and run the risk of re-traumatizing survivors.
Lack of Written Notice
A 2022 study found that more than 70 percent of schools do not give students adequate and timely written notice of the initiation of a Title IX investigation. Failure to notify the involved parties of the Title IX proceedings violates the due process right to formal, written notice in advance.
This also can interfere with the parties’ ability to gather and submit relevant evidence, obtain an advisor or attorney, and otherwise prepare to fully engage with the Title IX case. This is damaging to the reliability and fairness of Title IX proceedings and is a violation of due process rights.
Mishandling of Evidence
Under due process rules, both parties in a case have the right to introduce evidence for consideration throughout the process. If the parties do not have the opportunity to submit evidence that may be relevant to the outcome of the case, that student’s due process rights are being violated.
Improper handling of evidence, including the omission of relevant evidence, can significantly impact the outcome of a Title IX case. It is difficult to come to a fair, accurate conclusion when investigators do not consider all the facts.
Under Title IX due process, questions regarding the survivor’s previous sexual history are not permitted during cross-examination or at any other time during the proceedings. This is known as the “rape shield” protection.
If the complainant faces such discriminatory questions, their due process rights are violated. These questions may impact the outcome of the case by attempting to characterize the survivor negatively or otherwise to bias the investigation against the complainant through irrelevant questioning. These questions may also be a form of victim-blaming, which can be re-traumatizing and emotionally damaging to the survivor.
Get Help from an Experienced Title IX Lawyer
Educational institutions in Illinois are governed by specific due process guidelines in Title IX cases, and these procedures are crucial in ensuring the fair, trustworthy, and transparent handling of sexual assault and sex discrimination cases.
When you face due process issues such as those relating to evidence, the presence of advisors, the availability of written notice, types of questioning, or similar issues, it is helpful to have an attorney experienced with Title IX due process compliance to recognize and mitigate these problems.
The Mahoney Law Firm has extensive experience handling procedural issues in sexual assault cases, including cases within educational institutions. The strong advocacy provided by the firm can help assure students and their families that all proceedings are fair, equitable, and reliable.
If you or someone you know is facing a Title IX case in Illinois, seek legal representation from experienced professionals who can navigate the complexities of the due process requirements. Mahoney Law Firm has a proven track record of success in handling Title IX cases and can provide the guidance and support needed to achieve a fair and just outcome.
Contact Mahoney Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and learn how they can help you navigate the Title IX due process.