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Title IX in Texas

Title IX provisions are part of federal law applicable in every state in the country. However, the provisions are interpreted somewhat differently by courts in Texas compared to those in other jurisdictions. Moreover, many provisions leave it to individual colleges and universities to establish their own policies. The bottom line is that if a student, faculty, or staff member is accused of a Title IX violation in Texas, they need to consider the local interpretations and the rules that apply nationally.

The team at Duffy Law has extensive experience in Texas assisting those accused of Title IX violations and those who need assistance pursuing a Title IX claim either on campus or in court. Our team is devoted to upholding the ideals of Title IX equality and protecting the rights of individuals who are in danger of being overpowered by the machinery of educational institutions. We understand how to succeed in campus disciplinary proceedings in a way that few firms can match.

How Title IX Applies in Texas

Broadly speaking, Title IX prohibits virtually all educational institutions in the country from acting in a way that discriminates against students on the basis of gender and related characteristics. The federal statute itself is brief and succinct, and it is years of federal regulations, policy guidelines, and court interpretations that have expanded the provisions to their current levels of immense complexity.

Moreover, the rules applicable to Title IX are highly susceptible to political variations and subject to change frequently. In a Title IX case, it is important to pay attention to guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Education, local court opinions, and policies established by the particular educational institution involved in the proceeding.

Discrimination Provisions Often Focus on Sexual Misconduct

Although Title IX prohibits many different types of discriminatory conduct, the provisions are frequently invoked in situations where a student, faculty, or staff member asserts that they have suffered from sexual assault on campus. An incident that is considered a violation of Title IX may or may not be also considered a violation of Texas criminal law, which adds another layer of complexity to a case.

Other common Title IX complaints involve allegations of:

Title IX complaints can also allege Title IX violations in a number of other ways, such as program activity that denies equal sports participation opportunities to individuals on the basis of gender-related characteristics or that retaliates against those who seek to enforce or assist in the enforcement of Title IX rights.

How a Title IX Complaint is Handled in Texas

Once an individual files a complaint with the Title IX Coordinator on a college campus, it triggers a process that must be completed even if the complainant later decides they do not want to pursue the case. The campus authorities will investigate the allegations according to the procedures established by the educational institution. After the investigation, the school holds a proceeding to review the evidence and determine whether the person accused should be found responsible or not responsible for a Title IX violation.

Depending on the rules in force at the time, sometimes the college must hold a formal hearing and give the respondent the opportunity to cross-examine the complainant. Under other versions of the rules, schools are allowed to set procedures that permit the person investigating the complaint to make a determination based on separate interviews of those involved, without a formal hearing.

The procedures are supposed to comply with Title IX rules, but because the rules are complex and change frequently, campus policies are frequently out of compliance. It is important to anyone accused of a violation to work with a legal advisor who can review school policies to determine whether they comply with current Title IX provisions and whether the school properly followed those policies during the investigation and adjudication process.

At the end of the process, if the complainant or respondent disagrees with the outcome of the disciplinary proceeding, they often have the option to file an appeal on campus, depending on school policies. If that fails to produce a satisfactory outcome, the case can be appealed to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights or federal district court.  Led by a former federal prosecutor, the team at Duffy Law excels at advocacy during all stages of a Title IX complaint, including on appeal in Texas courts.

Texas Provisions Affecting Title IX Cases

In recent years, lawmakers amended sections of the Texas Education Code to improve the reporting of sexual misconduct, which they defined as incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking at colleges and universities in the state. The new legislation also included provisions to enhance the school policies and training procedures regarding reporting sexual misconduct incidents. Texas has been averaging approximately 1.5 million students attending college annually, giving it a student population second only to California in size.

Some incidents indicate that the revisions may have been too long overdue. In a high-profile case that was just resolved in October of 2023 after seven years of dispute, a jury found Baylor University had been negligent in handling Title IX complaints of dating violence made against a member of the football team. In that case, the former head football coach and athletic director both testified that at the time the incident occurred and for some time afterward, they had not received any training from the university regarding how they were supposed to handle Title IX responsibilities. The jury awarded the complainant $270,000 on the grounds that Baylor had been negligent by failing to take appropriate measures to prevent violence against the complainant. Presumably, the lack of training was a key component in their reasoning.

It is too early to tell what effect the new Texas requirements will have on Title IX cases on campus, particularly in light of the fact that new federal rules have been proposed and are set to be released in final form in the very near future.

Duffy Law Knows How to Protect Your Title IX Rights in Texas

The experienced team at Duffy Law fights to uphold Title IX rights throughout the country, but due to the high number of post-secondary students enrolled in Texas, we have a particular degree of experience investigating and adjudicating cases in this state. If you are facing accusations of a Title IX violation or you need assistance pursuing a Title IX complaint, we are ready to assist.

For a confidential consultation, call 203-946-2000 or contact us online today.

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