Eastern Washington University Title IX
The consequences of an Eastern Washington University Title IX accusation can be extremely serious. Accused students are subject to disciplinary action that may include suspension or expulsion. Students do have rights during the Title IX process, but schools sometimes violate those rights. Students being investigated for an alleged Title IX violation should obtain guidance from a knowledgeable Washington Title IX defense lawyer. At Blair & Kim, PLLC, we understand that an accused student’s future is at risk in a Title IX investigation.Title IX
Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972 (“Title IX”) prohibits sex-based discrimination, including sexual harassment, in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. Title IX has a broad definition of sexual harassment that includes dating violence and sexual assault.Eastern Washington University Student Code of Conduct
The Eastern Washington University Student Code of Conduct (“Code”) is codified in WAC Chapter 172-121. The Code does not include a dedicated Title IX section, but includes Title IX processes throughout. Sexual misconduct and Title IX complaints are generally subject to the same procedure as other types of Code complaints, though there are some specific Title IX provisions.Complaints
All Code violation complaints are forwarded to the director of student rights and responsibilities (“Director”).
If the complaint constitutes sexual misconduct or interpersonal violence, the Director reports it to the Title IX coordinator within 24 hours. The Title IX Coordinator determines if the allegation constitutes a Title IX complaint. A Title IX complaint must be filed by either the person alleged to be subjected to the sexual misconduct or interpersonal violence or the Title IX coordinator.
If the allegations do not constitute a Title IX complaint, the Title IX Coordinator notifies the parties of that conclusion and the reasons supporting it. Either party may appeal within three calendar days. Student Rights and Responsibilities (“SRR”) may proceed with a student conduct case outside Title IX.There is a goal for sexual misconduct and interpersonal violence complaints to be resolved within 90 days and the university must have good cause and provide notice the parties to exceed that timeframe.
The Code states that university “will investigate all sexual misconduct and interpersonal violence allegations, including Title IX complaints” and may request an investigation of other alleged misconduct.
When the university is notified of an allegation or sexual misconduct or interpersonal violence, it informs the complainant of their right to file a criminal complaint and provide assistance in reporting to local law enforcement if they want to do so. The university reports sexual misconduct or interpersonal violence allegations to law enforcement or other authorities when legally required. WAC 172-121-100.Title IX Investigation
If the director refers a complaint to investigation, they must provide the respondent with written notice of the investigation, including details of the allegations and the specific Code sections allegedly violated. The notice must also include other specific information. WAC 172-121-110.
The investigator contacts witnesses and the parties to gather evidence. The parties are given equal opportunity to identify evidence and witnesses. Parties may receive assistance from an advisor during the investigation.
In Title IX investigations, the investigator provides written notice before an investigatory interview with enough time for the person to prepare.
Before completing a Title IX investigative report, the investigator provides the parties the evidence directly related to the allegations. The parties have 10 days to submit a written response. The investigator submits the investigative report and any evidence collected in the investigation to the Director at least 10 days before the hearing or determination of responsibility. The report is also provided to the parties for review and written response in cases of sexual misconduct of interpersonal violence.
In cases of sexual misconduct or interpersonal violence, the Director informs the respondent and complainant of their rights under the Code, provide a summary of the allegations, state the potential Code violations, and inform them how to report retaliation or other problems. The Director is also required to provide the parties with certain written information.
After the complaint is reviewed, the Director either dismisses it or schedules a prehearing conference The complainant may ask for review of the dismissal in cases of sexual misconduct, interpersonal violence, or Title IX complaints. WAC 172-121-100.Pre-Hearing
If the director sends the case to hearing, they notify the respondent of the conduct review officer (“CRO) and the date of the prehearing conference. This notice must be in writing and include details of the allegations and the sections of the code allegedly violated. The notice must also include other information regarding the student’s rights and include the date, time, and location of the prehearing conference. WAC 172-121-110.
In cases requiring a full hearing, SRR must arrange the prehearing conference after the respondent has been given notice of the allegations. The university holds a full hearing when the allegations involve “felony level crimes” or a Title IX complaint. There is also a full hearing when suspension or expulsion are possible sanctions. In other cases, conduct review proceedings are just “brief hearings.” The Code notes that all Title IX proceedings follow the federal requirements in 34 C.F.R. Part 106. WAC 172-121-105.
The parties may each choose an advisor, who may be an attorney, to assist them. An attorney advisor must provide their contact information and file a notice of appearance at least two days before any proceeding. In a Title IX case, a student may request SRR’s assistance in finding an advisor.
In full hearings involving sexual misconduct or interpersonal violence, the parties may ask to view the material before the hearing and the Director must make a reasonable effort to accommodate the request to the extent legally allowed. WAC 172-121-105.
At the prehearing conference, SRR reviews the allegations, informs the respondent who brought the complaint, and provides the parties a copy of the Code and relevant policies. They also explain the parties’ rights and responsibilities, the procedures, and possible penalties. Additionally, they schedule the full hearing and address preliminary matters. WAC 172- 121-122.Full Hearing
The parties must be given notice at least seven days before the full hearing.
The CRO makes decisions regarding any procedural questions, including whom to admit to the closed hearing. If a respondent fails to appear after receiving proper notice, the student disciplinary council will make a determination based on the available information.
The parties are given options, which may include remote appearance, if they do not want to be in the same room as the other student for the hearing.
The council applies a preponderance of the evidence standard. The Code includes detailed provisions regarding evidence. The parties may request relevant documents in the University’s possession at least five business days before the hearing. The presiding officer or an attorney may issue subpoenas, but a party generally cannot subpoena the other party. Non-attorneys may ask the CRO to issue a subpoena. In Title IX cases, the CRO must determine if questions asked during cross-examination are relevant before they are answered. Each party’s advisor and the university’s presenter may question any witness or party. The council may also ask its own questions.
After the hearing, the council determines if the respondent violated the Code and any sanctions or remedies and issues a decision within 10 days of the hearing. The decision must include certain specific information, including appeal rights and procedures. Appeals must be based on one or more of the enumerated reasons in the Code. WAC 172-121-122.Sanctions
The Student Code of Conduct includes a broad range of potential sanctions, from admonishment to expulsion. Additionally, the university may also provide remedies to a Title IX complainant to restore or preserve equal access to educational programs or activities. WAC 172-121-210.Contact an Experienced Washington Title IX Defense Lawyer
Eastern Washington University’s Student Code of Conduct includes detailed procedural requirements. A knowledgeable Washington Title IX defense attorney can help an accused student follow the required procedures throughout the Title IX process. Blair & Kim, PLLC, has the experience to guide you through the process while fighting to protect your rights. We also have significant criminal defense experience and can help with associated criminal charges.