Washington State University Title IX
Accusations of sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct can follow a person indefinitely. When a student is the subject of a Washington State University Title IX investigation, he or she has certain due process rights. Universities have a duty to act promptly to investigate complaints and protect alleged victims. The resulting pressure from that duty can lead to bias and unfair treatment against the accused student. Accused students need an experienced Washington Title IX defense attorney on their side during the entire Title IX process. Blair & Kim, PLLC, has the experience to advise accused students and fight to protect their rights throughout the investigation and disciplinary process.Title IX
Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. Discrimination on the basis of sex includes sexual harassment, dating violence, and sexual assault. However, not all instances of sexual misconduct are covered by Title IX.Standards of Conduct for Students
Washington State University’s Standards of Conduct for Students is codified in chapter 506-26 of the Washington Administrative Code. These Standards include provisions on Discriminatory harassment (WAC 504-26-220), Sexual misconduct (WAC 504-26-221), Stalking (WAC 504-26-223), Sexual harassment (WAC 504-26-227), and Intimate partner violence (WAC 504-26-231). Potential sanctions for violating the standards of conduct range from a warning to expulsion from the university. WAC 504-26-425.Washington State University Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment
In addition to the Standards of Student Conduct, Washington State University has a Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment, Executive Policy #15 (“Policy”), that includes information relating to sexual harassment and Title IX. The Policy and other guidelines set forth the investigative process. This allows the process to be more flexible and subject to change than procedures set forth in the Washington Administrative Code.
Title IX matters are investigated by Compliance and Civil Rights (“CCR”). According to the current Procedural Guidelines, CCR reviews all formal complaints to determine if they implicate the Policy and whether investigation or informal resolution is appropriate. If CCR determines the alleged conduct does not meet the sexual harassment definition under Title IX or is not within the university’s Title IX jurisdiction as set forth in the Policy, it will dismiss the complaint under the Title IX violation but may proceed under the Policy.Student Conduct Hearings
The process for initiating conduct proceedings is set forth in WAC 504-26-401. Generally, a conduct officer may dismiss a complaint of a violation of the standards of conduct, but may not those referred by CCR after a formal investigation implicating Title IX. Such matters must be referred to a conduct board hearing, regardless of the outcome of the investigation. The hearing must occur within 60 days of receipt of the formal investigation report, unless there is good cause for delay or the parties reach an agreement or resolved the matter through alternative dispute resolution.
The conduct officer must send the respondent an information meeting notice, including a description of the allegations, a citation to the standard allegedly violated, and the range of potential sanctions. The notice must also provide information about the process and the student’s rights. The complainant is also offered an informational meeting in Washington State University Title IX cases.
Although student conduct officers may resolve most matters through agreement or alternative dispute resolution, they may not use alternative dispute resolution for matters involving sexual misconduct or sexual harassment.
Following the informational meeting, the conduct officer will decide whether the matter should be handled through brief adjudication or full adjudication. The conduct officer should consider factors including the severity of the allegations and the range of possible sanctions. The student may ask for full adjudication, but the conduct officer has the final decision, which is not appealable. Conduct officers handle adjudication of most student conduct maters through brief adjudication, but they do not adjudicate matters with potential sanctions of more than 10 days suspension, expulsion, or revocation of a degree. Additionally, conduct officers do not generally adjudicate matters involving allegations of sexual misconduct. Following a hearing, the conduct officer may find the respondent was not responsible for the alleged conduct violation, dismiss the matter without a finding with the possibility it may be reopened, find the respondent responsible and impose sanctions, or refer the matter to the conduct board. The conduct officer must provide written notice of the decision within 10 days of the hearing, including information on the right to appeal. WAC 504-26-402.
Full adjudication by a conduct board is governed by the Administrative Procedure Act, RCW 34.05.413 et seq., and chapter 10-08 of the Washington Administrative Code. Parties must be given notice of the hearing that complies with both the model rule and the standards of conduct rule. The notice must also include information on the process and the student’s rights. The hearing must be scheduled within 10 days of the notice. In some circumstances, subpoenas may be issued. Cross-examination is permitted, but must be conducted by the party’s advisor or representative. The respondent and complainant are not allowed to cross-examine each other. The presiding officer decides if each question is relevant before the question is answered.
A majority of the conduct board must agree on responsibility and sanctions. There must be a supermajority for expulsion or revocation of a degree. The conduct board must issue the decision within 10 days of the hearing. The decision must include certain information, including appeal rights and notice that the initial order will become final if no appeal is filed within 20 days. WAC 504-26-403.Other Sexual Harassment
Washington State University also prohibits conduct that it considers sexual harassment that is not covered by Title IX. The Policy notes that WSU may not apply the Policy in such cases if there is another applicable policy.Call a Knowledgeable Washington Title IX Defense Attorney
The Title IX process is complex and can be extremely intimidating to a student who is unfamiliar with the procedures of a hearing. Accused Washington State University students should contact a skilled Washington Title IX defense attorney as soon as they learn about allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct against them. Even decisions or determinations that occur well before the hearing can affect the student’s procedural and due process rights. Blair & Kim, PLLC knows that Title IX allegations can affect your educational and professional future. We can advise you throughout the entire Title IX process, through the investigation, disciplinary proceedings, appeal, and, if necessary, additional action. Our criminal defense experience also positions us to assist you in all matters related to the allegations. Contact us to set up a consultation.