Does your college or university receive federal funding? If so, you need to be aware of Title IX regulations—failure to comply can result in a loss of your funding.
What exactly is Title IX? Title IX is a statute included in the Education Amendments of 1972 to protect students against sex discrimination. It requires that all schools publish and distribute a policy preventing sex discrimination.
Title IX has strict requirements for the handling of any reports of gender-based incidents on campus, including:
- sexual assault
- sexual discrimination
Title IX requires that every school appoint a Title IX coordinator to handle compliance with the regulations, oversee the Title IX process, and work with law enforcement in the event of an incident. Title IX coordinators are not allowed to conduct investigations, however, or make any final decisions regarding the outcome of any such events.
Their responsibilities may consist of:
- Acting as the official contact for Title IX communication.
- Monitoring incidents and investigations to prevent systemic issues.
- Keeping an eye on enrollment to identify disproportionate demographics.
- Participation in drafting and implementing school policies.
- Ensuring compliance with the school’s discrimination policy.
- Drafting and distributing any Notice of Discrimination.
- Setting up and distributing clear reporting tools for Title IX incidents.
All schools must post their Title IX coordinator’s information on their website and communicate this information to students, staff, parents, and all unions.
Title IX investigation process requirements
A Title IX investigation process must allow for prompt and systematic investigations and ensure respect for the rights of all parties involved. Title IX issues can be sensitive, which means neutrality and discretion are paramount.
Given the sensitivity required throughout the process, many institutions understandably prefer to hire a third party to assist in the investigation. Outsourcing investigations also removes any potential conflict of interest and negates concerns around bias. And it insulates victims from the discomfort or awkwardness of seeing their investigator regularly around campus once the case is over.
Often, a third-party investigator works with an internal investigator.
What a Title IX investigation looks like
Title IX investigations can be informal, using mediation to resolve issues between parties. But while informality can save time and resources, it is often deemed inappropriate, given the severe nature of many sex discrimination cases.
Formal investigations follow stringent requirements, which involve distinct phases:
- All parties are informed of the investigation.
- Investigators conduct interviews and collect the facts.
- All information is carefully documented and analyzed.
- A decision is made about whether an offense was committed.
- Investigators provide a formal report.
- All parties are informed of the outcome or the decision made.
Investigations must be systematic and can be time quite time consuming.
Complainants and Respondents: Rights to consider
In conducting investigations, it’s essential to respect the rights of all parties, which exist to provide a fair and unbiased outcome. Title IX coordinators must be well versed in what these rights are and ensure that they are respected.
During an investigation, all parties have the right to:
- a prompt, unbiased investigation;
- ask questions and receive information;
- bring an advisor to all meetings;
- take an equal part in the process;
- file a complaint with campus or local law enforcement; and
- receive access to relevant support services.
Failure to respect and act by these rights can result in legal action against the school.
Why outsourcing is best
There are many reasons to outsource your Title IX investigations. Most schools understand the need for compliance in the face of the withdrawal of funding. Yet, there’s also the risk of a personal lawsuit—indeed, such lawsuits have grown in recent years. Weighing on these factors is the potential for negative publicity. It also can cause morale issues internally if the investigators are deemed to be too close in relationship with the accused.
It’s no wonder so many schools take advantage of independent investigators. External investigators bring with them a wealth of knowledge about Title IX law. They also understand the need to protect student rights, as well as the integrity of the school. With an external investigator, you mitigate any claims of bias or retribution.
Outsourcing communicates a commitment to fairness. It opens the door to an independent and impartial investigation. It eliminates the doubts often expressed with internal investigations.
It also reduces any risk that the student may feel unsupported or that their future may be at risk. In short, hiring a neutral third party instills faith and trust. It shows the world that your institution stands for its staff and students, without compromise.
In HIS Name HR: The Title IX investigative experts
At In HIS Name HR, we have the experts to support educational organizations across the nation. Our experienced and knowledgeable staff provides support that can make all the difference.
What can you expect from an In His Name HR investigation?
- Professional investigators experienced in policy analysis, conducting interviews, research, and investigation techniques.
- Objectivity, fairness, and absolute integrity.
- Expertise to help you provide a safe campus for everyone.
- Advice on how to resolve issues, including compliance with evolving law and regulations.
- Options for approaching complainants and respondents to create access and education.
At In HIS Name HR, we build reliable and robust HR programs.
Let us help you with your Title IX investigations. Check out our Services page for more information.