Every school that receives federal funding must create and implement a process for instigating and punishing instances of sexually motivated crime that occur on their property. This includes creating a procedure for starting an investigation and following that investigation through to a conclusion.
Schools must follow their processes of a Fairfax Title IX investigation to best serve both the complainants and respondents, provided here in Appendix A. This guide will provide some background information about what to expect during these investigations, and to identify your rights during each stage of the process. However, if you need more information, an experienced attorney may also assist in these matters.
Any Title IX investigation begins when a student files a report of Prohibited Conduct with the Title IX coordinator. The coordinator will then assess the strength of that complaint an identify any potential witnesses or sources of evidence that may aid in the investigation.
If the coordinator decides that the complaint has basic merit, the complaint moves to the Title IX Review Committee. This committee must meet within 72 hours of receipt of the complaint and is authorized under Commonwealth law to obtain medical reports, criminal background reports, and any law enforcement records.
The committee will then consider the wishes of the complainant concerning anonymity, the desire to continue with a formal hearing, or to submit the case to an informal resolution process. If the case goes to a formal hearing, the committee must provide the defendant-student with written notice of the charges. The committee will appoint an investigator to gather evidence and the respondent may provide statements in their own defense. From the date of initial complaint to resolution should be no more than 60 days.
The investigatory committee has the authority to fully investigate any alleged Title IX violation. This includes talking to witnesses, gathering any documentary evidence, and obtaining security camera footage. These investigations are not bound to the rules of evidence that criminal prosecutors must follow.
In addition, the committee must only decide that it is more likely than not that an offense took place in order to recommend disciplinary action. This is far less of a burden of proof than the “beyond all reasonable doubt” standard employed by criminal courts. As a result, many findings of misconduct can rely on hearsay evidence that only makes it more likely than not that an offense occurred.
The committee must provide a final report in writing to the respondent. The respondent can review that report, and if it recommends discipline, the respondent has the right to appeal. A student must complete the appeal request no more than five days of the receipt of the recommendation notice. This appeal goes to the Vice President for Compliance Diversity and Ethics. That Vice President’s decision is final.
All schools must create an implement a strict process for handling accusations involving violations of Title IX. The investigations begin with a student filing a complaint.
If a coordinator finds that this complaint is made in good faith, they may forward the complaint to the investigatory committee. This committee has the authority to talk to witnesses and gather other forms of evidence.
To implement discipline, a committee only needs to find that it was more likely than not that an offense occurred. Respondents in these cases have the right to present their own evidence and to have legal representation.
If the investigation recommends discipline, a student may file an appeal within five days of the receipt of that notice. An attorney could help you to better understand the process of a Fairfax Title IX investigation and to protect your rights every step of the way.
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