Title IX discrimination complaints to U.S. Dept. of Education Office of Civil Rights
Title IX makes it a federal civil right to have an educational environment free from discrimination based on sex. Gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence all constitute discrimination based on sex. These laws apply to schools that receive federal funds from the Department of Education. It applies to students while they’re on campus as well as those engaged in off-campus educational activities, extracurriculars, and sports.
A single incident of sexual assault is sufficient to create a hostile environment and hence a Title IX violation.
Anybody can report sex discrimination at school – the student, parent, or a third party. Schools must respond separately from law enforcement and must conduct a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation. A Title IX violation may have occurred if a school fails to accept or investigate a complaint, lacks policies and procedures to accept a complaint, fails to comply with those policies and procedures, or retaliates against somebody who reported an incident.
Title IX complaints must be filed with the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) within 180 days from the incident or within 60 days from the end of a school disciplinary/grievance proceeding. They will make an exception in certain instances.
Possible outcomes for OCR complaints include: 1) No action. (A complaint was filed and no investigation is opened.) 2) Early complaint resolution. 3) OCR opens a complaint and investigation begins. 4) Proactive full compliance review.
During OCR complaint investigations, OCR conducts a series of interviews and reviews documents to determine whether a violation occurred. The school agrees to the violation and to take corrective measures. A report is issued showing violations and mandating corrective behavior.
There is no financial benefit to victims if they file an OCR Title IX complaint. However, if the victim intends to sue the school, courts may look favorably upon there having been an OCR complaint filed first. Further, the results from the investigation may be very useful in a lawsuit if they support the survivor’s allegations. On the other hand, if OCR’s decision is not favorable to the survivor, that outcome will undoubtedly be used as proof in the school’s defense if the survivor sues the school.