Central Washington University Title IX
When a student at Central Washington University is accused of a Title IX violation, they may be facing severe disciplinary sanctions, including dismissal from the university. Students undergoing a Title IX investigation or disciplinary proceeding have a number of rights, but they are not always aware of those rights or how to advocate for them. A student accused of a Title IX violation should consult with a skilled Washington Title IX defense attorney who can protect those rights. At Blair & Kim, PLLC, we understand that a student’s education and future may be at risk in a Title IX investigation and are willing to fight for a fair process.Title IX Background
Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. Sex-based discrimination includes sexual harassment, which is broadly defined for purposes of Title IX.Title IX at Central Washington University
The Student Conduct Code contains supplemental procedures applicable to Central Washington University Title IX allegations. To the extent of any conflict, the supplemental procedures take precedence over the standard disciplinary procedures. WAC 106-125-200. For the supplemental procedures to apply, the alleged misconduct must have occurred in the U.S. during a university educational program or activity and meet the definition of sexual harassment. Additionally, the complainant must be participating or trying to participate in the education program at the time the formal complaint is filed. If these requirements are not met, the supplemental procedure proceedings must be dismissed. The university may, however, still pursue disciplinary action pursuant to other provisions of the student conduct code. The student conduct officer will also issue a whole or partial notice of dismissal if they determine the facts in the investigation report are not sufficient to support Title IX jurisdiction. WAC 106-125-210.
The university may discipline any “student who commits, attempts to commit, or aids, abets, incites, encourages, or assists another person to commit, an act(s) of “sexual harassment.” For purposes of the supplemental procedures, sexual harassment includes hostile environment harassment, quid pro quo harassment, domestic and dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault. WAC 106-125-205. The Student Conduct Code also separately prohibits harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking, and relationship violence. WAC 106-125-020. If conduct does not meet the definition of sexual harassment in the supplemental procedures, the university may still discipline as student under these or other general provisions.Title IX Investigation
Central Washington University’s Title IX investigation procedures are not described in detail in the Student Conduct Code. Detailed procedures are provided in CWUR 3-45-061, Title IX Grievance Procedure. The Title IX resolution processes begins when the Title IX Coordinator receives a formal complaint. The formal complaint may be resolved through either formal or informal resolution. Upon receiving a formal complaint and determining the allegations would constitute Title XI sexual harassment if proven, the university notifies the parties of formal and informal resolution processes and of the investigation. The notice of investigation includes the parties’ identities, a description of the alleged conduct, and when and where the incident occurred. The notice must also inform the parties of their right to an advisor and to review and inspect the evidence. The parties are given equal opportunity to present relevant evidence. Parties are allowed to have their advisor at any meeting related to the Title IX grievance, though the advisor’s role is to support and advise, not to represent or advocate during the investigation. Attorneys must enter a notice of appearance at least five days before the interview or meeting they plan to attend. The parties and advisors will have equal opportunity to review the draft investigation report and review and inspect evidence obtained during the investigation that is directly related to the allegations. Parties have ten days to submit a written response to the draft report. The investigator submits the final report to the Title IX Coordinator, who then provides it to the parties and the disciplinary authority. CWUR 3-45-061.Title IX Disciplinary Procedure
If the student conduct officer determines there are sufficient grounds to pursue Title IX disciplinary action after reviewing the investigation report, the student conduct officer files a written disciplinary notice with the chair of the student conduct council and serves it on the complainant, the respondent, and their respective advisors. The notice must contain certain information, including the basis for Title IX jurisdiction, the alleged violations, and potential sanctions. The notice must also inform the parties of their right to have an advisor during the hearing. The advisor may be an attorney and is responsible for asking questions of the witnesses. Additionally, the university will appoint an advisor if the party does not do so. The notice must also notify the parties that a decision of responsibility may be made in their absence if they do not appear at the hearing. WAC 106-125-215.
The student conduct council is appointed by the university president or a designee. The student conduct council for a Title IX procedure consists of three employees of the university. The university may also request an administrative law judge or other hearing officer to preside over the hearing. WAC 106-125-220.
When the conduct council chair receives the disciplinary notice, the chair sends a hearing notice to the parties, setting the hearing at least 10 days after the final investigation report was provided to the parties. A party may have an attorney act as their advisor at the hearing, but the attorney must file a notice of appearance at least five days before the hearing. The parties have equal access to the evidence collected in the investigation to prepare for the hearing. WAC 106-125-225.
The conduct council chair determines if questions are relevant and must explain on the record the reasons for excluding questions. Questions and evidence about the complainant’s prior sexual behavior or sexual predisposition are generally not relevant and are only allowed in very limited circumstances. WAC 106-125-235.
The general rules for a student conduct council initial decision apply with additional rules in the supplemental procedures. The council must issue a decision within 20 days of the latter of conclusion or the hearing or receipt of closing arguments. WAC 106-125-085. The initial decision must identify the sexual harassment allegations, describe the grievance and disciplinary procedures, make findings of fact, make conclusions regarding whether the facts establish the respondent is responsible for sexual harassment violating Title IX, state the council’s determination of responsibility for each allegation and its rational, describe the disciplinary sanctions or conditions imposed on the respondent if any, and describe the appeals process. The parties are served with the initial decision simultaneously. WAC 106-125-240.
The parties may appeal an initial decision pursuant to the general appeal procedures set forth in WAC 106-125-045. The conduct review officer reviews the initial decision in accordance with WAC 106-125-090 and serves the conduct review decision on the parties simultaneously. The conduct review officer’s decision is final. WAC 106-125-245.Disciplinary Sanctions
A student found responsible for sexual harassment may be subject to any of the general disciplinary sanctions stated in WAC 106-125-030, including reprimand, probation, and dismissal. CWUR 3-45-061.Contact a Skilled Washington Title IX Defense Lawyer
The respondent in a Central Washington University Title IX complaint is entitled to certain rights throughout the investigation and disciplinary proceeding, but the process can be confusing and intimidating. An accused student should contact an experienced Washington Title IX defense attorney upon learning of the accusations to ensure their rights are protected in the investigation and the hearing. Blair & Kim, PLLC, has the knowledge and the experience to fight for your rights during the entire Title IX process. We also have the criminal defense experience to work with you on any related criminal charges.