WHAT TO EXPECT
College and University Proceedings
Anyone who believes a Title IX violation or student conduct code violation has occurred can file a complaint. You may be accused of being a perpetrator. Victims of violations should also be prepared for the possibility that the accused will try to file countercharges.
Campus “judiciaries” have developed their own terms for the accused and the accusing student. The person who reports a violation is called the “reporting party” in the parlance of campus misconduct proceedings. The accused is called the “responding party.”
Reporting parties may include students, professors, coaches, administrators, and other faculty members. A person does not need to be the victim of a Title IX or other violation to file a complaint. A reporting party can also file on behalf of another person.
If you decide to file a complaint, an attorney can help you. Among other things, an attorney can help you identify what information is most relevant, how to weigh your interest in confidentiality with your interest in justice, what law or policies govern your case, how to craft a consistent, accurate statement that protects your legal rights, and how to protect you from countercharges.
Although the Department of Education requires every school to have guidelines for the enforcement of Title IX, it does not tell schools how or what to do. Each school has its own guidelines and Title IX policies. Other misconduct complaints, whether combined with Title IX proceedings or not, may be resolved under a completely different set of rules. If you are accused of a Title IX violation and other non-Title IX misconduct, the school may put you through a bewildering mixture of interviews, hearings, and procedures.
Some universities provide for informal resolutions. Others, like the Massachusetts state university system, categorically bar informal resolutions to Title IX complaints. An attorney can help you identify the benefits and pitfalls of informal resolutions and develop other strategies to address and resolve a complaint.
Formal investigations are inevitably more complex. They include witness statements and the presentation of evidence. Colleges and universities do not have to adhere to rules of evidence that would otherwise apply in a courtroom. This makes it even more important to prepare during the investigation stage. By the time an investigator completes the process, the outcome can be foreordained.
A qualified lawyer will not only inform you of your rights but will also work to get the outcome you desire in the preliminary stages of an investigation and proceeding.
WHAT WE DO
We know that your life and your future are at stake in college and university misconduct proceedings. They cost you money you had set aside to pay for your education. If you are suspended or expelled, you can forfeit tens of thousands of dollars in tuition and other fees. With a disciplinary infraction on your transcript, you will then face an uphill battle applying to other schools or getting certified in a profession.
Allen Law knows that almost one-third of students who are forced to leave or drop out of college never complete their degree. This means that if a university suspends or expels you due to misconduct charges, your education – and future income – are in serious jeopardy.
The primary goal of Allen Law is to protect your education and safeguard your future. That is why we help students assert their rights under Title IX, FERPA, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and other state and federal laws.
HOW WE DO WHAT WE DO
We PERSIST in defense of your rights. We:
Prepare: Allen Law begins each case with a thorough analysis of all relevant documents, policies, witnesses, and contracts with your university or college. This puts you in a position to understand where you have leverage with the university or with other parties.
Evidence: We get to know the evidence better than the university’s administrators so that we can protect your rights, if necessary with an independent investigation.
Rules: Allen Law learns each university’s rules, policies, and procedures better than the university’s own administration. We can then insist that the university follow its own rules and respect your rights.
Stakeholders: We identify stakeholders and allies who can and will support the resolution you want, protecting your education and your future.
Influence: We influence, negotiate, and advocate with campus administrators, the university “judiciary,” and its counsel to get the outcome you need.
Your Story: Campus administrators and the campus “judiciary” routinely disregard statements written as legal briefs. They want to hear your voice. They want you to tell your side of the story. We help you craft statements in your own voice and prepare for interviews, with an eye to detail and consistency in light of your rights under contract, statutes, and civil rights.
Trial: We approach all evidence and every statement you make as preparation for an eventual trial, even if a trial is never necessary. This is the strongest way to protect your rights. Carelessness at the outset of the case can compromise your legal claims later. It can even expose you to criminal liability.