University of Puget Sound Title IX
The University of Puget Sound Title IX procedures are complex and involve a number of short time frames. Students are often unaware of their rights and how to protect themselves from the severe consequences of a finding of responsibility in a Title IX proceeding. A skilled Washington Title IX defense attorney can help accused students through the process and protect their rights. Blair & Kim, PLLC, understands what is at risk in a Title IX investigation.Title IX
Discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance is prohibited by Title IX o the Education Amendment Act of 1972 (“Title IX”). Title IX considers sexual harassment to be a form of sex-based discrimination.University of Puget Sound’s Title IX Policy
The University of Puget Sound has a “Policy Prohibiting Sex-Based Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct” (“Policy”) and a “Procedure for Responding to Complaints of Sex-Based Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct” (“Procedure”).
The Policy prohibits sex-based discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, other sex-based offenses, sexual misconduct, and retaliation against someone engaged in protected activity under the Policy.
The Policy applies to the university’s education programs and activities, employment actions, conduct occurring on property it owns or controls, and buildings owned or controlled by recognized student organizations. The Policy applies to off-campus misconduct that deprives a person of access to the education programs or activities or negatively affects the person’s employment. The Policy may also apply to online or off-campus conduct if the Title IX coordinator determines it affects a substantial university interest.Complaints
Reports or complaints can be made online, orally, or in writing. The Policy notes that “the Complainant is largely in control” because reporting does not require the initiation of a formal response, but in some circumstances, the university may proceed even if the complainant does not want to do so.
Pursuant to the Procedure, the Title IX coordinator conducts an initial assessment to determine if the Policy applies to the allegations, if a Timely Warning or Emergency Notification is necessary to inform the campus community of a potential threat, if the allegations involve abuse of a minor, and if Emergency Action is necessary. The Title IX coordinator also works with the complainant to determine if they prefer a supportive and remedial response, an informal resolution, or a formal grievance process.
If the allegations are not governed by Title IX, the university will dismiss the Title IX complaint but may proceed under other university policies.Emergency Action
The Procedure allows the university to take emergency action after completing a violence risk assessment including an individualized safety and risk analysis. Pursuant to the Procedure, the university takes the least restrictive emergency actions possible considering the circumstances and safety concerns. Emergency actions may include restricting the student’s access to or use of facilities, removing them from a residence hall, allowing them to withdraw without financial penalty, and suspending participation in various activities.
The parties are given notice of any emergency action and the opportunity to meet with the Title IX coordinator to show cause why it should be modified or not implemented. The parties only have five business days to request the meeting, or any objections to the emergency action are waived.Title IX Investigation
Once a formal grievance process commences, the Title IX coordinator provides written notice of the allegations and the investigation to the respondent. The Procedure details the steps of the investigation. Before the investigation is concluded, the investigator provides the parties and their advisors a copy of the draft investigation report and a chance to review the evidence. The parties have ten business days to review and comment. The investigator finalizes the report and provides copies to the parties and advisors at least ten business days before a hearing.Hearing
If the complaint is not dismissed or resolved through informal resolution, the Title IX coordinator refers it for a hearing after the final report is provided to the parties.
The Procedure requires the parties to be given at least ten business days’ prior notice of the hearing. The notice must include certain specified information. It must inform the parties they are required to have an advisor present and that they must notify the Title IX coordinator if they do not have an advisor at least seven days before the hearing so the university can appoint one.
Pursuant to the Procedure, any witness scheduled to participate must have either been interviewed by the investigator, provided a statement, or answered written questions, unless all the parties and hearing officers agree to their participation. Everyone must likewise agree to the introduction of any new evidence at the hearing, or the hearing officer may delay the hearing and have the investigation reopened. Before the hearing, the parties may continue to review and comment on the final investigation report and evidence.
A party who refuses to be recorded is responsible for the stenographer’s fees.
At the hearing, the investigator may be questioned, but may not be asked to give opinions on credibility or make recommendations.
The hearing officer may not consider information about the complainant’s sexual predisposition, or the complainant’s prior sexual behavior except as offered to prove someone else committed the alleged conduct or information regarding specific incidents of prior sexual behavior with respect to the respondent that are offered to prove consent.
The hearing officer prepares a written report and provides it to the Title IX coordinator and Sanction/Responsive Action Administrator within five business days after deliberations have ended.Corrective Action
Pursuant to the Procedure, the Title IX coordinator selects a Sanction/Responsive Action Administrator. If there is a finding of responsibility, they review the hearing officer’s report, the hearing transcript or recording, and other specified information. The Procedure provides a non-exclusive list of potential sanctions, including educational sanctions, reprimand, probation, suspension, expulsion, organizational sanctions, and withholding diploma. The Sanction/Responsive Action Administrator must provide the Title IX coordinator their determination and rationale in a letter within five business days of receiving the information from the hearing officer.
The Title IX coordinator then provides a Notice of Outcome identifying the policies violated and describing the steps taken by the university. The notice states when the results will be considered final and provide the relevant procedures and bases for appeal.Appeals
Requests for appeals must be submitted within seven business days of delivery of the Notice of Dismissal or Notice of Outcome. The request must specify one of the grounds for appeal listed in the Procedure: material procedural error, new evidence, contrary to law or policy, or clearly erroneous.
If the request meets the grounds for appeal, a copy is emailed to the other party, their advisor, the Title IX coordinator, and, if appropriate the investigator and the hearing officer. They will have seven business days to respond. The other party may also raise a new ground for appeal.
The Notice of Appeal Outcome is sent to the parties and their advisors.Long-Term Remedies
The Procedure allows the Title IX coordinator to implement certain long-term remedies after the resolution process, including referral to counseling, education, permanent changes in housing assignments, and limitations on contact between the parties.Contact an Experienced Washington Title IX Defense Lawyer
University of Puget Sound’s Title IX procedure is detailed and complex. The knowledgeable Washington Title IX defense attorneys at Blair & Kim, PLLC, understand Title IX processes and procedures. We also have significant criminal defense experience that allows us to assist with associate criminal cases.