Title IX in High School: What Parents Should Know

Feb. 19, 2020 By Andrew Miltenberg

Title IX in High School: What Parents Should Know

If you are the parent of a high school student, you need to know about the facts regarding Title IX of the federal Civil Rights Act.

Title IX prohibits schools that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of gender or sex. Title IX has been invoked by alleged victims of sexual misconduct to seek remedies against schools that don’t take enough action against the persons accused of the misconduct. 

Sexual misconduct consists of harmful acts committed against a person because of their gender or sex. People of all genders and sexual orientations may experience such violence or harassment. Most often it occurs with unwelcome sexual advances, forced sexual behavior, violence, or physical, emotional, or online harassment of another person. Schools that do not take appropriate action to remediate such activity and discipline the perpetrators run the risk of losing federal funding. The Department of Justice’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) enforces Title IX.

Title IX applies to all elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities. However, most OCR enforcement activity has focused on colleges and universities.

What To Do If a Sexual Misconduct Complaint is Filed Against Your High Schooler

If a sexual misconduct complaint is filed against your child in high school, the complaint will be investigated by the school’s Title IX coordinator, an investigator  or other employee responsible for Title IX compliance. The Title IX coordinator will examine documents and social media posts, meet with witnesses, and make a recommendation to the school as to a finding of responsibility. Some secondary schools may have procedures for convening a panel to conduct a disciplinary hearing. Accused students must defend themselves personally in such a disciplinary hearing and the rules for doing so will be less favorable than at a criminal trial, with a lower burden of proof, typically only needing only a “preponderance of the evidence” (51% likelihood) to convict.

If your child is accused of sexual misconduct in high school, there is a strong possibility that the allegation and any resulting discipline will affect their eligibility for college admission and scholarships. During college, a Title IX complaint will lead to a more formalized process for resolution.

When Should You Hire a Lawyer

It is critical to hire an experienced Title IX attorney as soon as possible after you learn of such a complaint. The Title IX attorney will assist in the investigation process and ensure that the student receives due process or fundamental fairness and is given the right to examine documents, evidence including social media postings and to submit questions to cross-examine the other party and witnesses during a hearing. If not, if any bias is shown by any member of the investigation and hearing panel, or if the school fails to follow its published Title IX procedures, the Title IX lawyer will preserve the record for a possible Title IX lawsuit against the school.

If an adverse finding against the accused is made at the end of the hearing, school penalties can include suspension, expulsion, and notation of the Title IX finding and sanction on the student’s transcript. This can make getting into college nearly impossible. A Title IX lawyer will work proactively to prevent any penalties and remove any  negative entry on the transcript. 

Contact Us

Our attorneys are Title IX specialists and we have helped hundreds of elementary school, high school and college students across the country who have been treated unfairly by their schools. We are parents too. Call us at our Boston office at 617-209-2188, New York office at 212-736-4500 or contact us as soon as a complaint is filed and we will be there aggressively protecting your rights, ensuring a fundamentally fair process, or establishing the deficiencies that will lead a court to reverse the school’s adverse findings. There is no fee for a private consultation.

Because every student’s situation is different, this blog does not constitute the giving of legal advice.