Title IX investigations in Middle Schools and High Schools in North Carolina

Title IX

When you hear the term Title IX, most people think about college sports. However, one of the primary functions of Title IX is to prevent sexual harassment, gender based incidents, and domestic violence in the American education system. While sexual harassment and domestic violence are rare at the middle and high school level, they are still present. So, what happens when your child is accused of something that would fall under the Title IX investigation process and what should you do to help them.

First, it is always important to speak to a lawyer as quickly as possible, many school related personnel are required to report certain accusations to law enforcement. Furthermore, often when allegations of a sexual or violent nature are made at a North Carolina school, the School Resource Officer (a local law enforcement agent stationed at the school) is often involved in the investigation process.

The Title IX process in any educational system begins when a complaint is made. Complaints can be made about any kind of inappropriate behavior, however, not all complaints fall under the auspices of Title IX. Once it is determined that a complaint does belong in the Title IX process it should follow the following process.

  1. Meeting with an investigator. The Title IX investigator is usually someone in the school administration who has been specially trained to handle these kinds of cases and investigations, at the high school and middle school level it is often an assistant principal or someone slightly below that level, but it is not usually the actual principal. The investigator will meet with all of the individuals who are involved and any witnesses that may be brought to their attention during this process. It is important to know that under the rules and regulations of Title IX investigations, your child is allowed to have an attorney present at this stage. An attorney can also help you look at the facts of your child’s case, and help you determine if there are any important witnesses or facts that need to be given to the investigator.

It is important to know that during the investigation process, the school is allowed to put into place interim measures such as no-contact orders, changes to schedules, or other measures to ensure that there is no further incidents.

  1. Report of Investigation. Once the investigation process is done, the investigator will create a report of investigation. This report will often be circulated to the people involved to ensure that the information is accurate and that there isn’t any witnesses, exhibits, or other information missing. This report will also include the investigators findings, while this is not the opportunity to challenge these findings, it is important to make sure that there isn’t any information missing. If there is information missing, it is important to get that information to the investigator as soon as possible.
  2. Review of the report by the Title IX coordinator. Once the report is completed and everyone signs off that the information is complete the report is transmitted to the Title IX coordinator. Once the Title IX coordinator reviews the report, they will determine the appropriate response from the school. This could range from attempting to mediate a settlement between the two parties, to suspension, or expulsion from school. It is important in this process to have a lawyer who knows not only what the potential range of punishments is, but who can also advise you on potential future ramifications of accepting any punishment.
  3. Hearing. If you do not agree with any punishment laid forth by the title IX coordinator the next step is a hearing. The hearing process differs from school to school but often puts a lot of responsibilities on the student. During a hearing it is important to know that the normal rules of the courtroom will NOT apply. Therefore, it is very important in any title IX hearing to have an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer by your side.

The Title IX process is often a confusing one with very serious stakes and ramifications at play. If your child is involved in this process and you are looking for help, call the lawyers at Jetton and Meredith today.