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A Title IX Lawyer Explains Confidentiality in Title IX Proceedings

Title IX By Binnall Law Group - 2021/11/12 at 09:48am

Students facing allegations of Title IX violations and students considering whether to file a Title IX case often wonder whether their case will play out on a public stage. Are proceedings confidential or will there be witnesses? Does evidence become a matter of public record? Who will know about the results?

A Title IX lawyer who defends students accused of violations sees many different situations and the degree to which the evidence and outcome become public knowledge. There are no simple answers to the questions, but when you understand how Title IX proceedings work, you can get an idea of the degree of confidentiality likely to be involved in a particular case. 

Title IX Complaints at Educational Institutions

While Title IX cases may end up in court, they usually start with a complaint filed at the educational institution where the alleged misconduct took place. Complaints are also filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Although it is possible to file a complaint anonymously, a Title IX lawyer will usually not recommend that course of action because it can be difficult to investigate the claim.

The Department of Education is a public entity, and very often, the college, university or high school involved in the case is also public. Technically, all documents pertaining to the case could be considered public records because they were created by and for public institutions. By law, records from public institutions are subject to eventual disclosure to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. 

However, the records in Title IX cases often contain highly sensitive and personal information. Quite often, this enables the institutions involved to keep the information confidential. In particular, it is highly unlikely that records would be disclosed to the public while a case is still pending. 

Handling Complaints in Court

Like public schools and the Department of Education, courts are public entities, and cases filed in court become a matter of public record. However, a Title IX lawyer can seek to have sensitive information filed with the court sealed.

News outlets are more likely to report on a Title IX complaint when it reaches court. Lawsuits involving allegations of sexual misconduct at a school can attract readers and viewers, so it can be tough to keep word of a Title IX case out of the press. Schools themselves are unlikely to publicize a case, but often those involved want to gain public sympathy for their position, so they may initiate a news story.

A Title IX Lawyer Can Help Maintain Privacy in a Title IX Case

While students who suffer due to prohibited conduct have the right to file Title IX complaints, students who have been accused also deserve to have their rights protected. A Title IX complaint can have a devastating effect on a student’s career, even if the allegations turn out to be unfounded. An experienced Title IX lawyer could develop and implement a strategy to protect a student’s rights and privacy concerns. For a confidential consultation to learn how the dedicated student defense attorneys at Binnall Law Group will assist if you or a loved one face Title IX accusations, contact us now.