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Title IX Considerations for Parents

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What Should Parents Know About Their Child’s Title IX Case?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in educational programs and activities, including sports, Greek organizations, and extracurricular clubs. Specifically, Title IX says: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Parents can often feel detached from their child’s college or university education, especially when the child has traveled a great distance to attend a particular institution. Many parents are also unfamiliar with Title IX and how it applies to their child as a college student. Accordingly, when parents learn that their child is involved in a Title IX investigation as a complainant or a respondent, they are often alarmed and in need of guidance as to how to help support their child. Parents often want to be involved in the process. However, depending upon the state law where the child’s school is located, the specific Title IX policy at that institution, and the individual desires of their child, a parent’s role in the process may be limited. Our national Title IX attorneys will provide you with more information that is relevant to parents whose children are involved in a Title IX investigation at a college or university.

Parental Role in the Title IX Process

Each college or university will have its own policy concerning Title IX investigations and how outside parties can be involved. Generally speaking, many Title IX policies will include the following types of provisions:

  • College level Title IX offices will not contact parents of any involved parties in the Title IX investigation
  • College or university has a duty to the student and not to the parent, which means that the Title IX office is not obligated to report to the parents of the children involved in the Title IX complaint, and are in fact prevented from doing so
  • If a parent contacts the Title IX office, the Title IX coordinator will not speak to the parent without obtaining express permission from the student (the parent’s child) involved in the process;
  • Parents cannot access their child’s educational records under Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) if the child is aged 18 or over unless the child gives permission
  • If a student gives permission for the Title IX office to discuss the proceedings with his or her parent, the Title IX office then will speak with the parent about the Title IX complaint after the parent has signed a University FERPA release form
  • A parent may serve as the student’s sole “advisor” during a Title IX hearing, but if a parent serves in this role, the child cannot also have an attorney present.

Most colleges and universities allow parties in a Title IX hearing to have a single advisor, who can be an attorney, a faculty member, an employee of the institution, a parent, or another trusted party. However, the student cannot typically have both an attorney and a parent present. It is important to learn more about the specific Title IX policy at your child’s institution when you make determinations about how to proceed.

Title IX Process: Disciplinary vs. Criminal Proceedings

Parents often are concerned about the interrelation between a college or university’s Title IX proceeding and criminal proceedings. It is important to understand that the Title IX process is entirely separate from any type of criminal case. A student or university employee can file a Title IX complaint without ever making a report to the police, and a student or university employee can face Title IX allegations, and even can be found responsible for a Title IX violation, without ever facing criminal consequences. While a student or university employee who is found responsible from a Title IX violation can face penalties outlined by the college or university, those penalties are not tied to any type of criminal penalties.

At the same time, however, parents are frequently concerned about their child’s educational record, and whether Title IX allegations and any related findings of responsibility will have serious consequences for the student later in life. Generally speaking, the outcome of a Title IX investigation is not public. Although the Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) provides information about sexual misconduct cases under Title IX, that information is general and does not provide specific information about a particular case or the people involved in the case. However, if a lawsuit is filed later in relation to the Title IX case, that information may be public.

This, however, does not prevent the institution from including a finding of responsibility on a students’ record. This finding can include a notation on the transcript which will follow the individual forever. Students typically need to disclose disciplinary findings to transfer or apply to any other educational institution, including graduate programs, and schools are permitted to share this information with the requesting school.  Many certifications and licensing boards as well as certain employers require this information.   This emphasizes the importance of involving an attorney early on in the case so that every effort can be made to try to maintain a clean record.

How Our Title IX Lawyers Can Help with Your Child’s Case

Our highly experienced Title IX attorneys can help you to navigate the complicated Title IX process, and we can advise you about your child’s rights and protections under federal law. Given that many students live on-campus or near the college or university, parents tend to play less of a day-to-day role in the lives of their children once they leave for college. Of course, some students live at home and commute to classes at their college or university, but a significant number of students are living away from their parents while working toward a college degree. As such, information about a Title IX process can be difficult to process. Our Title IX attorneys are based in Connecticut but provide representation to students across the country. The following are some of the ways in which our team can help your child through the Title IX process:

  • Assess your child’s case and discuss possible outcomes of the Title IX process
  • Answer your questions about the Title IX process and the role parents can play
  • Investigate the Title IX allegations—either those made by or against your child
  • Gather evidence related to your child’s Title IX case
  • Serve as your child’s advisor in a Title IX hearing
  • Discuss options for protecting your child’s rights, including the possibility of an appeal if necessary

Contact Our Experienced Title IX Attorneys for More Information About How We Can Assist You

At Duffy Law, we know it can be extremely difficult for parents to learn that their child is involved in a Title IX investigation at his or her college or university. While Title IX protections have been in effect since 1972, schools did not have the same robust Title IX policies then that they do now. As such, many parents have questions and concerns about the Title IX process more generally, and they want information about how they can be involved in their child’s case. Our highly experienced Title IX and Conduct Code lawyers can discuss options that may be available to you as a parent, and we can help you to understand the role you can play in your child’s case as federal and state law, as well as university policy, permit. Contact Duffy Law today to learn more about the Title IX services we provide to university students and staff throughout the country.

How Can We Help?

How Can We Help?