Episode 2: How to Have the Title IX Talk
In this episode, Mike speaks directly to parents and guardians about the other topic they need to talk to their kids about in addition to drinking, drugs, texting and sex. This episode informs parents and guardians of college students what they need to know about Title IX to protect their student and his or her rights.
Welcome to In Your Court. Today’s episode How to Have the Title IX Talk in this episode, Mike speaks directly to parents and guardians about another important topic they need to talk to their kids about. In addition to drinking, drugs, texting and sex. You know most parents think Title IX is only about equality in women’s athletics Mike’s goal in this episode is to help parents understand Title IX laws and their relevance today on college campuses.
There are significant risks to a college student’s future if a Title IX infraction isn’t addressed immediately and correctly from the start. Hello, I’m Jordan Rich and I’m very pleased to be back with Mike Contant an attorney whose firm, Contant Law, specializes in criminal defense and Title IX defense. Protecting the rights of the accused in Massachusetts. Well Mike, thanks for joining us today. Title IX. It’s evolved since the early days when it had to do with athletics women and sports equality and so forth. I did a lot of reading on Title IX fascinating to see where it’s come. This is something that you are focusing on now because there is a need and we’re talking to parents who are concerned for their kids and their futures in college. Why have you taken on this role?
MC: As a criminal defense lawyer for 20 years, I’ve seen some of these cases come through and we started doing these a few years ago. It’s extremely important for parents and the kids to understand their rights under Title IX as well as what can happen to them. They pay all this money for college education. Kids work for years and years and years in grade school to keep their grades up to get into a great college to help get their future on the right track. The future can quickly detracted from that track if they don’t do the right things in college right.
So, the idea is we want to help people make sure that that investment the investment of time and money over the years is protected should there be any allegations of a Title IX violation in these days.
JR: It’s more important than ever for folks who are sending their kids off to school to know enough about this area to have that talk and to actually bring up the term Title IX so that the kids are aware of it. What advice do you have to begin with for parents before they send their kids off to school these days?
MC: The parents should have a very clear understanding of what it means. Any allegations that Title IX can have on the on the student. They will be covered by the student in orientation; it is a requirement that they least talk about it. But most kids don’t remember it. What happened was told new orientation. So it’s helpful for the parents to have an understanding as well so that when their son or daughter hopefully calls them and says we got this I got this notice in the mail and Susie saying I did this to her on this date but I really don’t remember doing anything or doing anything wrong. What do I do next? They, the parents, have an idea ok, this is very serious. We need to get in touch with somebody.
JR: So, it’s really about sexual confrontation but a lot of it has to do with the drugs and the alcohol. And we all know as parents that that’s a dangerous combination. By the way we were all students once ourselves, but this was important for parents to consider all three of those issues isn’t it.
MC: It is, because drinking alcohol often contribute to these allegations. Most of the cases we see coming through. There was some substance involved such as alcohol or drugs. Some person claiming that they were intoxicated to the point where they couldn’t consent. They don’t remember doing things. Sometimes it’s both parties but it’s almost always involved in these types of allegations.
JR: Obviously, we’d like to prevent things from getting to that point. Is there enough information out there in general for people to have that talk or they can lean on people like yourself of course for information?
MC: Certainly, yes, online these days you are going to find a lot more information as it’s becoming a much bigger topic particularly in the news these days with Secretary of Education Betsy De Vos recently promulgating new regulations to help bring the process to one of greater fairness. There’s a lot of that in the media now turning such as myself. We’ve tried to make as much information available on our website to educate people about the process. We have pretty detailed articles on their talking about what it means to be accused of a Title IX violation usually involving some type of sexual assault or sexual harassment dating violence things of that nature stalking. I spent a lot of time going through and in general terms what’s required and if it’s had online in the process so that people have a greater understanding is just what’s coming up what’s involved.
JR: Mike are the parents automatically notified or is it strictly to the student and then it’s up to the student to notify the parent?
MC: It’s up to the student to notify the parents of the students in most cases are adults. Almost everyone going to college is 18 or older.
JR: So, it’s conceivable that a student will not even tell his or her parents?
MC: Correct if they wait too long, they may try to get across on their own sweep it under the rug. They’re not thinking of the worst-case scenario that their parents might be. So it is important to talk to your kids about the process so that they understand that hey, if you get a letter like this saying that someone claimed you sexually assaulted them in some way harassed them, you stalked them them that you need to get in touch with us right away so that we can help you and guide you to a greater understanding.
JR: And you mentioned worst case scenarios; it can really damage a person’s future if they don’t tend to this and have something in place to help them.
MC: Yes. It goes on the parent education records so that if they’re applying to grad schools if they are seeking certain jobs in the future all of that can be put at risk by having this type of discipline on your record. It can be anywhere from probation to suspension all the way through expulsion.
JR: As we said Mike, in our accompanying podcast aimed at young people at the students, your role as an attorney here, it’s not like going to court and facing the judge and having all the rules in place. This is more an advisory capacity that you’re offering right?
MC: That’s correct. Our job at this time the way Title IX is structured is, our role is not as an attorney but as an advisor. We help the person get them through the investigation we will conduct a parallel investigation will help them prepare any written statements required to prepare, we go with them to any hearings assist and advise at hearings at meetings with any school personnel. That’s essentially what we’re allowed to do right now we want to do much more.
JR: And as you said there are regulations in flux things that might be changing in that regard.
MC: Correct. In November more formalized regulations were put forth. They have not been approved yet. These will make the process more akin to – not exactly like it – but more akin to a criminal trial where all schools required to give the accused greater rights they have to have the ability to have an attorney act in the capacity that an attorney usually acts in essentially speaking on the person’s behalf advocating, cross-examining witnesses; more what people are used to seeing in the realm of a criminal trial.
And one thing I did want to point out as well. Title IX is a civil matter it’s a school discipline matter
JR: That’s right.
MC: It’s private it’s not police getting involved in most circumstances, however, the conduct involved if it is as some sort of assaultive behavior some sort of harassing or stalking behavior can quickly turn into criminal charges. It’s really important that we really frame what the student is saying and not saying to make sure they’re protected should criminal charges either be sought or if they’ve already been sought. One misunderstanding that people have is they think, “OK, well if there was a criminal charge, they’ll wait for the criminal trial is over before they do anything under Title IX.” It’s just the opposite.
They do not halt a Title IX proceeding in order to wait to see what happens in criminal court. They continue with it and quite frankly oftentimes I’ve seen prosecutors obtain information such as written statements, recorded statements of the defendant of the person the accused in the Title IX proceeding to help prosecute them in the state court. So, it’s really important to have someone who understands both the criminal aspects as well as the civil aspects of it all to make sure that the student’s rights are protected in general.
JR: There are some other misconceptions that come up when parents are thinking about these issues and maybe not as aware of what they should know and it involves for one thing the fact that schools can sort of pattern the Title IX to fit their own school policy. Am I right?
MC: In a way. So, there are certain requirements in any Title IX case that have to be within the policy. But schools are not only allowed to, but required to have their own policy specific to their school as long as it follows the Title IX guidelines and that’s what’s interesting too, is the guidelines are very loose. So there’s just a few things that have to be in there in order to be compliant with the Title IX guidelines but otherwise the school can fashion their set up however they want. Public schools for instance, are required to give the person what they call greater due process, which is greater notice in hearing rights versus a private school who oftentimes won’t have any sort of a hearing at all they’ll have what they call a single investigator model where that person actually does all the fact finding there is no true hearing they make a recommendation to the school based upon what they believe is guilt or innocence as well as what those sanctions should be which oftentimes is just rubber stamped by the Title IX coordinator at the school. So, it’s almost like one person acting as judge jury and executioner
JR: Perhaps the most upsetting thing when someone’s caught up in this and is accused is the interruption to their life in school. And one of the things that you pride yourself on is trying to make it safer and more likely that they’re going to be able to get through their education while this process is going on.
MC: Certainly. There will be certain things put into place once the process begins. They may be asked to leave campus. They may be restricted from going to certain classes. They’re certainly going to be restricted from contacting whoever the accuser is and some of the witnesses in the case. But the idea is that we want to get involved to make the process as smooth as possible hopefully to keep them in school versus having them – some interim measures involve an immediate suspension from school for a period of time. Our job is to try and not only make the process more the but also heat through education going at the same time. It’s not always possible that that’s what he’s trying to do.
JR: And Mike, this is a perfect time to pose this idea. Your job is not just numbers and facts and figures and case study it’s really helping people through a tough human situation isn’t it.
MC: I’ve always said that our job, that the actual legal work we do is one part of it. The other part is reducing people’s stress. These situations that come up whether it be criminal charges or a Title IX violation involve an inordinate amount of stress on the person. This weight even if they haven’t done anything, there’s still this feeling of shame and embarrassment that they don’t want to tell the world about. And the idea from our aspect is to educate the people. Make them understand the process helped take some of that weight away from them and decrease that stress in any way we can.
That’s what we’ve always tried to do and that’s always been what I consider to be a very large part of our job.
JR: Thanks so much Mike. Parents and guardians for more information about Contant Law and Title IX defense you can visit w w w dot Contant dash law dot com and you can follow Conant Law on Facebook, Twitter, and connect with them via Linked In. For specific questions email info at content dash law dot com. We hope you found this informative and we encourage you to share this with others to help increase the awareness of what Title IX is and its relevance in today’s world. Please read and review this episode and subscribe for additional episodes to stay informed and protect your loved ones including juveniles and young adults and their legal rights.
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