Do I Need to Worry About the Proposed New Rules if I’m Facing a Title IX Complaint?
Rules for filing and handling Title IX complaints have shifted drastically in recent years, and they are set to change yet again. The key question is just when those changes are coming. The Biden Administration issued proposed new rules in June of 2022 on the 50th anniversary of Title IX. They accepted comments and expected to release the final new rules in May of 2023. Then at the end of May, the Administration announced that the release would be pushed back to October.
As October approaches, further delays now appear likely. So, if you are responding to a Title IX complaint, do you need to plan to address your defense based on the current rules from 2020? And what if allegations of a violation have been raised, but you’re still waiting on a formal complaint? Should you be preparing for defense under the proposed new standards or anticipate continuance of the current standards?
When Will the New Rules Take Effect?
After the new rules were proposed in June of last year, the Department of Education was flooded with more than 240,000 comments. Some commenters believe the proposed changes didn’t go far enough while others objected that they went too far. The Department said it needed more time to consider and review all comments.
In addition to the first wave of comments, the Department is also dealing with more than 150,000 additional comments regarding the participation of transgender students on sports teams. The initial draft of the proposed rules did not address the issue, which was covered in a later proposal. The Department announced an intention to release all the new rules at the same time.
As of mid-September, the Department had not sent finalized versions of either set of rules to the Office of Management and Budget(OMB), the agency that must review all rules before they are published. During the OMB review process, meetings are typically held with parties affected by the rules. The review process often takes as long as 90 days. So the October deadline may not be feasible, although a spokesperson for the Department insisted that staff are working overtime to complete the rulemaking process. A government shutdown could further delay the issuance of new rules unless all staff assigned to the matter are deemed essential by the Department’s Secretary, Miguel Cardona.
Colleges and Universities Will Need Time to Implement Changes
Many educational institutions who commented asked to be given at least eight months to implement changes in their policies and procedures. If the rules had been released in the spring as originally scheduled, some school policies at least might have been changed by the time the 2023-24 academic year began.
It is now quite possible that schools will not initiate new policies until the 2024-25 school year. If that’s the case, advocates have asked the Department to issue interim guidance on the ways schools can comply with Title IX under the new prevailing standards.
But this is all in the future. What do you do if you are facing allegations of a Title IX violation now?
Take Accusations Seriously
Many student advocacy groups have been arguing that the current rules need to be changed as soon as possible because they make it too hard for complainants to receive justice. Their assertions may give people the sense that respondents accused of Title IX violations under the current rules don’t have to work hard to avoid being considered responsible for an offense.
That is far from the truth.
The current rules offer more protection to those accused than some previous versions of the rules, but a respondent who does not take the allegations seriously and adopts a well-planned defense strategy can suffer very serious consequences. If you are accused of sexual assault, you could be suspended or expelled. Even a seemingly minor consequence, such as a reprimand, can go on your record and make it difficult to continue your education or get the job you want.
News that you have been accused of a Title IX violation can spread like wildfire across a campus, and in the court of public opinion, anyone accused is often assumed to be guilty. To protect your reputation and your future, you need to work with an experienced student defense lawyer to fight the allegations. A dedicated and knowledgeable Title IX lawyer will be able to craft the right defense strategy regardless of which set of rules apply to your case.
What to Do When Facing a Title IX Complaint
An attorney who understands the most effective defense tactics for campus disciplinary proceedings can advise you of the precise steps you can take to protect yourself. Here are some general guidelines:
- Don’t attempt to talk to the complainant. You may violate rules by doing so, and you will not be able to straighten out the record with an unofficial conversation. Once a complaint has been filed, the case is official, and it needs to be resolved through official channels.
- Stay off social media. Though it may be tempting to air your frustrations or try to get friends on your side, your messages can be taken out of context and used against you. They might also violate procedural rules.
- Learn your rights. If you don’t know your rights, you may unintentionally forfeit them.
- Collect evidence to support your defense. This is an area where assistance from a knowledgeable attorney can prove invaluable.
- Understand the charges against you. Read the complaint thoroughly and consider how to demonstrate that aspects of the accusations are incorrect.
- Understand how the Title IX investigation and hearing will be conducted.
Legal professionals focused on Title IX can make this process much easier because they have the knowledge and experience to provide advice and support you with every aspect of the process.
Duffy Law Protects the Rights and Future Opportunities of Students Accused of Title IX Violations
The dedicated team at Duffy Law focuses on protecting students facing challenges on campus. We know the most effective defense strategies for students accused of wrongdoing, including Title IX violations and violations of school conduct codes.
We know what’s at stake, and we want to help. We have devoted our practice to helping students facing the same issues that you face now.
If you or a loved one have been accused of a violation on campus, contact our team today for a confidential consultation to learn more about the ways we can help preserve rights and future opportunities.