March 21, 2023 | Title IX
Under Title IX, all students have the right to access educational programs and activities without fear of discrimination based on gender or sex-based factors. Schools must also provide victims with support services such as counseling and medical care following an incident involving sexual misconduct or violence.
Additionally, schools must further prevent incidents by making sure perpetrators are held accountable for their actions through disciplinary measures. But are Title IX complaints available to the public? This blog post will fill you in on what you need to know.
Who Can File a Complaint?
Most people involved with a federally-funded educational program or activity may file a complaint if they believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of sex. This includes students, teachers, administrators, and other individuals who are part of the educational community.
Additionally, the complainant does not need to be a direct victim of discrimination; if they witness or are aware of it happening to another person or group in their educational setting, they can also file a complaint on their behalf.
Title IX Complaints Are Confidential
By default, Title IX complaints are kept confidential. This means that all parties involved in a case have an obligation to not disclose any information related to a complaint, investigation, or resolution process without prior authorization from both parties involved. This includes revealing any information about the identities or other details associated with the case.
Exceptions to the Confidentiality Rule
There are three primary exceptions to this rule:
- When allowed by law under FERPA (the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act)
- When identity is required by law
- When disclosure is necessary to carry out the purposes of Title IX itself
These exceptions are in place when extraordinary circumstances dictate that there are interests more important than protecting the privacy of the complaint.
Some Institutions Have a Code of Conduct Requiring Confidentiality
Additionally, many institutions require that students maintain confidentiality during the investigation and adjudication process. This is often included in their code of conduct.
In these situations, there are usually additional exceptions other than those mentioned above. For example, students may be permitted to discuss their experience with professionals in health services, religious capacities, legal advisors, and parents if they feel comfortable doing so.
Additionally, students may also discuss their case as necessary to be involved in investigation and adjudication processes related to their case. This means that they can provide relevant information but must still refrain from discussing any sensitive details with anyone outside of those who are directly related or connected to the case itself.
Anonymous Complaints and Formal Investigations
The Department of Education’s (DOE) regulations state that if a complainant wishes to pursue a formal complaint process and investigation, they must provide identifying information, including their identity, the identity of the alleged perpetrator, and details about the alleged misconduct.
This allows the DOE and/or the institution where the incident occurred to investigate thoroughly and uncover evidence in order to make an informed decision about any violations or sanctions.
Obtaining Title IX Information Through the Freedom of Information Act
While some information can be obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, there are certain restrictions in place. When submitting a FOIA request for Title IX information, most requests are denied to protect victims’ privacy during an ongoing investigation or proceeding.
The majority of the time, even after the decisions in these proceedings have been made, Title IX documents will still not be released publicly.
In almost all cases, FERPA will protect the identities of parties involved in a Title IX case from being disclosed. However, other information contained in a Title IX case may be available to the public.
If a party does manage to obtain Title IX information through a FOIA request, they must obtain permission from all parties involved before disclosing it publicly.
Retaliation for Filing a Complaint Is Illegal
Retaliation is any type of punishment or negative action taken against someone for filing a complaint or report about an instance of discrimination or harassment. This could include expulsion, disciplinary actions, firing, or loss of tenure.
Retaliation can also include threats or other forms of intimidation meant to discourage an individual from filing a complaint in the first place. Any of these actions in response to a Title IX complaint are illegal.
If you have any questions about Title IX or need legal assistance, contact Suhre & Associates, LLC, to schedule a free consultation with an attorney.
Contact the Cincinnati Title IX Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202