Understanding Title IX investigations in Minnesota
Title IX is a groundbreaking civil rights law that Congress enacted in 1972. It requires all federally funded educational institutions in Minnesota and the rest of the country to provide equal opportunities for both male and female students. This includes prohibiting discrimination, harassment, assault or other forms of sexual misconduct.
The investigation process
When a student reports an incident of discrimination or harassment on campus, the school must begin an investigation into the claims. School administrators must process all complaints they receive and provide due process to both parties involved in a timely manner. They must be impartial and take all necessary steps to ensure a fair resolution.
Every institution has an employee that’s responsible for Title IX compliance efforts. This person or team is usually known as the Title IX Coordinator, and their job is to ensure school administrators investigate all reports of discrimination in accordance with federal and state laws.
They will help gather evidence about the incident and provide a report on their findings. This report may include interviews with witnesses, a review of documents and evidence from the complainant’s own account. The Title IX Coordinator will also guide the school on how to best handle the case.
Presumption of innocence and standards of proof
The presumption of innocence is a cornerstone of the American legal system, and it also applies to Title IX investigations. This means the school must assume that the respondent (or the accused) is innocent until proven guilty. This is similar to the principle of “presumption of innocence” in criminal defense cases.
The institution has the burden of proof and must demonstrate that the respondent is guilty based on the evidence collected during the investigation. The standards of proof in Title IX cases vary, but they are typically either a “preponderance of the evidence” or “clear and convincing evidence” standard.
No matter the Title IX investigation is outcome, it’s important for Minnesota students to be aware that they have rights during this process, including a right to an advisor and an attorney. If the school finds the respondent guilty, they may take disciplinary action, such as suspension or expulsion.