Title IX investigations have changed a lot in 2020. The Department of Education released new guidance this year for colleges and universities, under the leadership of Betsy Devos. The updated Title IX guidelines have profound influence over how Title IX investigations are carried out and what standards of evidence may be used. Some of the changes are controversial and many argue that they may discourage individuals from reporting sexual assault. These changes were officially implemented in August 2020.
Some of the biggest changes include a narrowing of the definition of sexual harassment, clarification of off-campus reporting, and revised guidance on evidence standards.
But updated guidance isn’t the only thing impacting Title IX investigations this year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a lot of uncertainty about how Title IX applies to online learning programs and how investigations can be carried out remotely. While some schools have decided to use video-conferencing systems, there are fears that video conferencing can hide crucial body language and negatively impact an accused individual’s defense.
Because of the changes in the Title IX landscape, it is even more necessary to retain legal counsel if a student or professor has been accused of sexual assault or harassment under Title IX. Hiring a skilled lawyer can ensure a person’s rights are protected — especially during the chaotic era of lockdowns and remote hearings.
Title IX proceedings can vary from school to school, so it’s important to find an attorney with adeptness at adapting to different environments and hearing processes. While it may be tempting to try and deal with Title IX allegations on your own, it’s important to know that if you are found responsible, the consequences can have severe, long-lasting consequences. You may even be prevented from graduating.
The newly released guidance has specific changes that apply to those who have been accused, so it’s important to understand these changes and how they can affect your defense strategy. It’s also important to understand your options when it comes to virtual hearings and investigations.
Suffice it to say, 2020 has been a key year in redefining how Title IX investigations are conducted.