The Title IX Investigation Process
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex at federally funded schools. An institution that receives a complaint of sex-based discrimination, sexual assault, and sexual harassment must conduct a Title IX investigation. Knowing what this investigation process entails is key to protecting your rights and exploring your legal options. Get your immediate questions answered and prepare to take the next step in speaking with a Title IX lawyer.
Understand the fundamental aspects of Title IX Investigations, including their purpose and how the process works. This information is important for knowing your rights and options when filing a complaint about sex-based misconduct at your college or university.
What Can Someone Report Under Title IX?
Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination and sexual abuse at educational institutions that receive federal education funding.
The law protects individuals by defining necessary reporting processes and rights for those who suffer from violations of Title IX. You can report possible Title IX violations for the following types of misconduct:
Reportable occurrences of Title IX violations can happ en in a variety of settings on your university’s campus. They could include peer-to-peer incidents as well as unequal power dynamics with or between staff or administrators. Anyone can report a Title IX violation to initiate an investigation into potential misconduct.
What Happens During the Title IX Investigation Process?
Before starting the Title IX investigation process, you may consider getting legal representation to guide you through the process, protect your rights, and maximize your cases’ chances of success. The process typically involves the following stages:
Rights and Options of Victims During and After the Title IX Investigation Process
The Title IX investigation process isn’t always clear and doesn’t always result in a fair or just outcome for survivors. You have legal rights and options for pursuing a complaint after the conclusion of a Title IX investigation, especially if the university has not taken steps to prevent further harm from your perpetrator.
Consider consulting an experienced Title IX attorney to discuss your available options further. They can speak with you about the process, analyze the university’s response, or advise you on seeking further justice against your perpetrator and anyone who enabled it. Get in touch with Helping Survivors if you are looking to speak with an attorney who specializes in Title IX violations.
What is the Title IX Reporting Process Like for Students?
Each school has its own policies and procedures for students and staff to report Title IX violations. However, the process usually begins with contacting the university’s Title IX coordinator, which every federally funded school must have. A Title IX coordinator is responsible for ensuring the school’s compliance with Title IX and overseeing reports of discrimination and abuse.
You can generally find the school’s Title IX coordinator by searching the university’s website. If you are unsure how to contact the Title IX coordinator at the school, consider reaching out to a trusted staff member, such as a professor or coach —each university staff member should have training on how to connect students to the university’s Title IX resources. You can typically make a report in person, over the phone, or by email, but each university may differ.
Protections Under Title IX
The protections available to victims of Title IX violations include:
- Access to available supportive measures
- Protection against retaliation
- The right to file a civil action against those responsible for the misconduct
Those responsible could be one or more individuals or even the university itself. Schools have a legal obligation to protect students and staff from acts of sexual abuse or discrimination and could face liability for their failing to uphold this duty. Successful civil actions for Title IX violations can provide victims with financial compensation.
How Long Does a Title IX Investigation Take?
The length of an investigation varies based on the unique procedures of each university and the specific issues relevant to the case. Neither Title IX nor the U.S. Department of Education impose a specific time requirement. However, investigations must proceed in a reasonably prompt manner to comply with due process requirements. Typically, the investigation process takes anywhere from a couple of months to over a year, depending on the circumstances.
Title IX Coordinator’s Responsibilities
As the school’s primary resource for managing its compliance, the Title IX coordinator has the following responsibilities in addition to investigating complaints:
- Implementing and enforcing the university’s policies and procedures related to Title IX
- Educating and training students, professors, and staff on the school’s Title IX policies and procedures
- Managing the university’s coordination and response to complaints of sexual discrimination, harassment, or assault
- Promoting equal education opportunities for students and community members in the university’s various academic, social, and athletic programs
A Title IX coordinator’s failure to uphold these responsibilities could give rise to liability for the university. For instance, when a lack of institutional programming to prevent sexual or sex-based misconduct leads to harm, the university may be held accountable.
What Supportive Measures Should the Title IX Coordinator Offer?
While the investigative process is ongoing, the Title IX coordinator should offer supportive measures to help students and staff continue their academic experience and prevent further misconduct. Specifically, a Title IX coordinator should have the following short-term remedies available:
- No-contact orders: Requirements for the accused to avoid contact with the victim
- Academic support: Extensions on projects, flexibility in class attendance or scheduling, and other efforts to prevent the Title IX investigation from having negative academic effects
- Housing and other accommodations: Transferring dorm rooms, short-term lodging, and other options to prevent further opportunities for sexual harassment, assault, or domestic violence
These resources provide support while the individual awaits the conclusion of the investigation. They can help students or those who report continue with their academic or professional goals and mitigate some of the negative impacts of the incident. Even if the Title IX coordinator does not have direct access to certain resources, such as medical help, they can likely provide contact information for off-campus support. While some coordinators may be free-flowing with resources and assistance, students should advocate for what they need during this time. While it can be difficult to ask for assistance or support, it is one of the strongest things survivors can do to ensure their future health and happiness.
Title IX prohibits retaliation against an individual who files a complaint or participates in the complaint process. Generally, retaliation involves any adverse actions that attempt to intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any participant in the Title IX process. Examples of adverse actions include giving poor grades, exclusion from activities, threatening expulsion, job terminations, demotion, pay deductions, and failure to give a promotion. Title IX coordinators must ensure participants in Title IX investigations are protected from retaliatory behavior.
When Is the Person Who Caused Harm Notified?
The Title IX Coordinator will likely notify the individual shortly after making the formal report of a violation. While the exact timeline will depend on your circumstances, this formal notice could be given anywhere from a few days to a few weeks after reporting the incident. They should notify you prior to this or keep you informed so you can ensure you create a safety plan to protect your emotional, physical, and digital wellbeing.