Has one of these things happened? Here are first steps for what to do.
Your school is investigating you
This is a terrifying moment. Your school is investigating you for something that could derail your entire future. And they are saying that you are someone who could have done something horrible to another student. It’s a tremendously scary time.
Please read our list of 10 tips. But, for you in particular, know that you should do three things:
- Do not meet with the school or any school official by yourself. You have a right to have an advisor. Even if that isn’t a lawyer and is just your parent, that’s better than going to the meeting alone. The school will try to pressure you to meet alone. Don’t let them. Federal law gives you the right to an advisor. You owe it to yourself to get one.
- Tell your parents. No one wants to talk to their parents about the details of their sex life. But this is important. Everything you did to get into college could be taken away from you through this process. Just as you talked to your parents about applying to college, you need to talk to your parents about this.
- Don’t Panic. The stakes are high. Your future is on the line. But it’s highly likely that nothing is going to happen immediately. Things may move fast, and you need to prepare for that, but you will likely have time to make sure the decisions you make aren’t motivated by fear or panic.
You’ve been found responsible after a hearing
In a process that has a lot of horrible moments, hearing that you’ve been found responsible of sexually assaulting another student is one of the worst.
You may want time to regroup after getting this news. Unfortunately, time is not something you have at this point. Most schools have very narrow timeframes to file an appeal – often as little as a few days. And preparing an appeal that has a chance at winning can be a time-consuming process.
If you’ve just lost an appeal, you need to act quickly to develop a strategy for the appeal based on what happened at the hearing or in the investigation, the school’s rules for what you can argue in an appeal, and the facts of your case.
Your appeal has been denied
If your appeal has been denied, you are likely out of options within the school process. You have two choices: accept what the school decided or consider suing the school.
A lawsuit against a school based on a Title IX proceeding is time-consuming, expensive, and uncertain.
Many families hire us after their child has been expelled or suspended to see if they should sue. While we’re eager to vindicate the rights of people who have been wrongly disciplined, or have been railroaded through an unfair process, sometimes there just isn’t a case that they’re likely to win.
When a family hires us to see whether to bring a lawsuit, we first review what happened at the college, what the evidence was, and what the school’s policy said. If we think they won’t win a lawsuit, we tell our clients that. Lawsuits are incredibly expensive; if someone is going to invest a substantial amount of money, they should know if they’re likely to get anything in return.
This is not how every firm works. Some people want to sue regardless of how likely they are to win. There are plenty of firms who encourage them to do that—it’s a great way for lawyers to make money. We aren’t one of those firms. If you hire us to evaluate whether to sue, we’ll give you an honest assessment of whether we think it makes sense to do so. The standard we use is whether we’d sue if it was our child who was suspended. We think our clients deserve nothing less.