Process of a College Park Title IX Investigation
The University of Maryland College Park maintains jurisdiction over all Title IX complaints connected with the school. Therefore, the process of a College Park Title IX investigation is regulated by university policies, so far as they comply with federal laws and guidelines.
Proceedings connected with Title IX investigations provide certain rights to students and others accused of violations. However, rights and procedures differ significantly from the rights afforded to defendants in a criminal trial, including those involving evidence, burden of proof, and appeals.
The Start of the Process
When employees at the university receive reports of sexual misconduct, they are required to notify the appropriate Title IX Officer. There is no time limit on the reporting of sexual misconduct.
The procedures vary somewhat depending on whether the incident involves allegations of wrongdoing by a student, staff, or faculty. This description of the process of a College Park Title IX investigation will review the procedures when students are accused of violations.
After receiving a report, the Office of Civil Rights & Sexual Misconduct (OCRSM) conducts an Initial Assessment to determine whether a potential violation of Title IX policy occurred. The OCRSM usually meets with the complaining party as part of the assessment. After the assessment, the OCRSM may impose interim protective measures before moving to the investigation.
Rights of Parties During the Investigation
Any party to the process is entitled to bring a support person and advisor such as an attorney to any meeting involved in the investigation or resolution of the Title IX proceedings. While these parties may provide advice and assistance, however, they may not speak on behalf of a party or present evidence.
A preliminary meeting will be held with the accused party to explain the allegations against them, the potential sanctions, and the process for resolving the matter.
A trained investigator will conduct the investigation and prepare a draft report summarizing the information collected from interviews and other evidence. The evidence used in the process of a College Park Title IX investigation is not subject to the restrictions in criminal proceedings.
Parties involved may review and comment on the draft report before it becomes final and provide a written response to the final report. Depending on the conclusions, the university may refer the case to the Standing Review Committee or may resolve the complaint through a Disciplinary Conference.
Standard of Review
Accused parties should be aware that the investigator and later adjudicators will not be looking for evidence demonstrating guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, they need only find that a preponderance of the evidence indicates that a Title IX violation occurred. So, the burden of proof is set at a lower standard than in criminal trials.
Resolution Through a Conference
In cases where the accused student is not facing suspension or expulsion, the process of a College Park Title IX investigation will conclude with a Disciplinary Conference, during which each party will speak individually to the Director of Student Conduct to address information in the final report. If the Director finds the accused student responsible for the violation, sanctions will be imposed.
If a student may be expelled or suspended due to the Title IX violation, a more formal conference will be scheduled with the Standing Review Committee. The Committee will review evidence in the report and responses to the report to reach a conclusion which may not necessarily agree with the recommendation of the investigator. Parties may submit written questions for the Committee to ask but may not directly question anyone.
Final Stages of the College Park Title IX Investigation Process
If the Committee fails to find the accused student responsible for a Title IX violation, the student who made the allegations may appeal the decision. In cases where the student is found responsible for a violation, that student has a right to appeal on limited grounds.
Both parties have three days to submit statements to be considered in assessment of sanctions. For assistance with any stage in the process of a College Park Title IX investigation, it is advisable to consult a defense attorney with Title IX experience.