The Title IX Process in North Carolina Colleges


One of the most serious situations that North Carolina college students can find themselves in is when they are facing allegations of violence against another student or against a spouse. Beyond the criminal implications and the court system processes they will also likely have to deal with the School’s individual Title IX Process. While each school can have a slightly different process, they all follow the same general pattern.

1st Step – The investigation Stage

This is the initial step in any Title IX matter. This stage is less about what actually happened and more about who the parties are, what the allegations are, and ensuring that the situation is one in which the school’s Title IX office should be involved. The key factors here are:

  1. Who are the parties? Are they both students, what is their relationship to the institution and to each other?
  2. What are the allegations? Is there a threat of violence, actual violence, sexual assault, or some other action under the purview of the Title IX office?

You will notice that one of the key questions is not, where did the event take place? With so many students living in off-campus housing or housing not controlled by the institution, a common question that gets asked by clients in these situations is, if it didn’t happen at the school, how can the school punish me? The answer is that in the federal laws that create these processes and protections, they specifically list out that any interaction that occurs between students can be used as the basis for a Title IX matter.

Another important question that can arise out of this stage of the process is, what if the court has already made a decision about this matter? While that is often very helpful in determining whether or not a case should be opened by the Title IX office, it is not dispositive. Meaning that the Title IX office is not bound to make the same decision or hold to the same decision as the court.

2nd Step – The Interview Stage

The next step in the process is an interview, this is where the Title IX investigation, usually a member of the institution’s staff assigned to the Title IX office, meets with all of the parties involved and conducts an interview. These interviews are usually recorded, and often transcribed. It is important to know that before you agree to go in and complete the interview that you should consult with an attorney. When the district attorney’s office, or criminal prosecutors, learn that a Title IX investigation is underway, they will usually subpoena all records and recordings that the Title IX office has and these materials can be used against you in a court of law.

The decision here isn’t whether you are guilty or not guilty or even whether or not you should be punished. After the initial investigation the only outcome will be whether or not the investigator has reasonable belief that the incident complained of occurred; that it broke some of the student’s code of conduct; which rules in the code of conduct were breached, if any; and whether or not the case should be advanced to the next step in the process.

3rd Step – Mediation Stage

Nearly every institution in North Carolina has some form of a Mediation process. This is where a school administrator will contact both parties to see if they can come to an agreement on what rules or alleged violations should be included in the final report and what, if any, punishment should be handed down as a result of those violations. It is very important to have an attorney for this stage who can help negotiate on your behalf. Oftentimes there are ways to avoid serious punishment and to avoid the negative affects that come with being found in violation of the code of conduct if an agreement can be reached.

4th Step – A hearing

If the mediation fails, then the institution may hold a hearing. In the hearing a panel made up of other students, faculty, and administrators, listen to the testimony of those who were involved, potential witnesses, and other relevant evidence and decide what if any violations of the rules there was and what the punishment should be. It is important to know that while constitutionally and under Title IX you are given an opportunity for a fair hearing, this is not the same as a criminal or civil trial. Many if not all institutions, limit or curtail your ability to question or cross-examine the witnesses against you. Therefore, it is important to have an attorney who is well versed and experienced in these kinds of hearings on your side.

If you or someone you know has a situation in which a Title IX investigation or matter is pending and you wish to speak with an attorney about the process, the situation, or anything else connected to your case, call the Criminal Defense team at Jetton and Meredith today!