Title IX Grievance Process for Complaints Alleging Title IX Sexual Harassment and/or Sex Based Misconduct

Title IX Grievance Process for Complaints Alleging Title IX Sexual Harassment and/or Sex Based Misconduct


For purposes of this Grievance Process, a formal complaint is a document filed by a complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator, alleging (a) sexual harassment in violation of Title IX and/or (b) sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking in violation of the Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act; and requesting that the College investigate the allegation. At the time of filing a formal complaint pursuant to this Grievance process, the complainant must be participating in or attempting to participate in the College’s education programs or activities, either as a student or an employee. Should a formal complaint be field, the Title IX Coordinator will investigate the formal complaint or appoint a qualified person to undertake the investigation on his or her behalf.

The College as it deems appropriate may extend the time provided in this Grievance process to comply with a requirement and may postpone the scheduled date for any proceeding, meeting, or hearing, provided that the extended deadline or postponed date would not exceed a time limit required by law. The College will provide written notice of the extension to all impacted parties. If one of the parties requested the extension or postponement, that it is available on an equal basis to both parties.

Notice of Allegations

Within 10 business days after signing a formal complaint or receiving a formal complaint filed by a complainant, the Title IX Coordinator will provide written notice to the parties who are known of the following:

  1. This Grievance Process, including the informal resolution process, where applicable.
  2. The allegations potentially constituting sexual harassment under Title IX and/or sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking under the Preventing Sexual violence in Higher Education Act, including sufficient details known as the time and with sufficient time to prepare a response before any initial interview.
  3. That the respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct and that a determination regarding responsibility is made at the conclusion of the grievance process.
  4. That the parties may have an advisor of their choice, who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney.
  5. That the parties may inspect and review any evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the allegations raised in the formal complaint, including evidence upon which the College does not intend to rely in reaching a determination regarding responsibility, and inculpatory or exculpatory evidence, whether obtained from a party or other source.
  6. The Student Code of Conduct provision(s) that prohibit knowingly making false statements or knowingly submitting false information during the grievance process.

If during the course of an investigation, the College decides to investigate allegations that are not included in the initial notice of allegations, the Title IX Coordinator will provide subsequent written notice of the additional allegations to all known parties.

Informal Resolution

At any time after receiving the initial notice of allegations (See Section VIII.A above), and prior to a determination regarding responsibility being reached, the complainant and respondent may request to participate in an informal resolution process. Informal resolution will only occur with both parties’ voluntary, written consent. At any time prior to agreeing to a resolution, any
party will have right to withdraw from the informal resolution process and resume the grievance process with respect to the formal complaint.

The College does not permit informal resolution in cases involving alleged sexual harassment, sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking by a College employee toward a student.

Consolidation of Formal Complaints

The Title IX Coordinator may consolidate formal complaints as to allegations against more than one respondent, or by more than one complainant against one or more respondents, or by one party against the other party, where the allegations of sexual misconduct arise out of the same facts or circumstances.

Dismissal of Formal Complaints

If, during the course of an investigation or following an investigation into a formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator or designated Investigator determines that the conduct alleged in the formal complaint would not constitute sexual harassment as defin3ed in 34 C.F.R. § 106.30 (Title IX) even if proved, did not occur in the District’s education program or activity, or did not occur against a person in the United States, then the Title IX Coordinator will dismiss the formal complaint with regard to that conduct for purposes of Title IX. In Cases where the College determines that Title IX is not applicable but the College still intends to apply this Grievance Process to resolve the alleged misconduct, the College will inform the parties that Title IX is inapplicable but that such Process will nevertheless be applied. In addition, dismissal of a formal complaint for purposes of Title IX does not preclude action under other
College policies and procedures.

The Title IX Coordinator may dismiss a formal complaint, or any allegations therein, at any time during an investigation if: (1) the complainant notifies the Title IX Coordinator in writing that the complainant would like to withdraw the formal complaint or any allegations therein; (2) the respondent is no longer enrolled or employed by the College; or (3) specific circumstances prevent the College from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination as to the formal complaint or allegations therein.

Upon dismissal – either of a complainant altogether, or of a complaint for purposes of Title IX -– the Title IX Coordinator or Investigator will promptly send written notice of the dismissal and reason(s) for the dismissal simultaneously to the parties. Dismissal of a formal complaint under this Process does not preclude action under other College policies and procedures.

Investigation of Formal Complaint

The Title IX Coordinator will appoint one or more trained investigators to undertake an investigation into a formal complaint. Throughout the investigation, the parties will be afforded an equal opportunity to present witnesses including fact and expert witnesses, and other inculpatory and exculpatory evidence. The Investigator will not restrict the ability of either party to discuss the allegations under investigation or to gather and present relevant evidence. Any proceeding, meeting, or hearing held to resolve formal complaints pursuant to this Grievance process will protect the privacy of the participating parties and witnesses.

Both parties will be afforded an opportunity to be accompanied to any meeting or proceeding by an advisor of their choice, who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney. The advisor’s role is limited to providing support, guidance, and/or advice, and to conducting cross-examination during the live (see Section VIII.F below). A party’s advisor m ay not speak on behalf of the party during any meeting, interview or hearing and must comply with all behavioral rules and expectations set forth in these Procedures. If a party’s advisor violates these Procedures or engages in behavior that harasses, abuses, or intimidates a party, witness or individual resolving a complaint, that advisor may be prohibited from further participation.

When a party’s participation is invited or expected at an investigative interview or other meeting, the Investigator will provide that party with written notice of the date, time, location, participants, and purpose of said interview or meeting at least three (3) business days prior to the interview or meeting.

At the conclusion of the investigation and prior to the Investigator’s completion of his/her investigative report, the Investigator will send to each party (and the Party’s advisor, if any) the evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the allegations raised in the formal complaint, in electronic format or hard copy when necessary. The parties will have 10 business days to submit a written response to the evidence, which the Investigator will consider prior to completion of his/her investigative report.

After receiving and reviewing the parties’ written responses, if any, the Investigator will create an investigative report that fairly summarizes the relevant evidence, and will forward a copy of his/her report to the Title IX Coordinator. Upon receipt of the Investigator’s Report, the Title IX Coordinator will schedule a hearing. At least 10 business days prior to the hearing, the Title IX
Coordinator will:

  1. Provide both parties with written notice of the hearing date, time, location, participants (including the name of the appointed Hearing Officer) and purpose of the hearing; and
  2. Send to each party (and the party’s advisor, if any) the investigative report (in electronic format or hard copy when necessary) for their review and written response.

Hearings

A hearing will be conducted by a Hearing Officer appointed by the College. Both parties will have the opportunity to request a substitution if the participation of the appointed Hearing Officer poses a conflict of interest. A party wishing to request a substitution must contact the Title IX Coordinator within three (3) business days after the party’s receipt of the notice of hearing to make such a request.

At the request of either party, the College will arrange for the live hearing to occur with the parties located in separate rooms, with technology enabling the Hearing Officer and parties to simultaneously see and hearing the party or witness answering questions. A party wishing to request that the live hearing occur with the parties located in separate rooms must contact the Title IX Coordinator to request such an arrangement at least three (3) business days in advance of the hearing. The College may conduct any live hearing virtually, with the participants in one or more separate geographical locations, and with technology enabling
participants simultaneously to see and hear each other.

At the live hearing, each party’s advisor will be permitted to ask the other party and any witnesses all relevant questions and follow-up questions, including those challenging credibility. Such cross-examination will be conducted directly, orally, and in real time by the party’s advisor of choice and may never be conducted by a party personally.

If a party does not have an advisor who is available to conduct cross-examination on behalf of that party at the live hearing, then the College will provide the party with an advisor of the College’s choice, free of charge, to conduct cross-examination on behalf of that party. To invoke this right the party must notify the Title IC Coordinator at least three (3) business days in advance of the hearing that the party does not have an advisor to conduct cross-examination. A party who fails to notify the College that he/she does not have an advisor within the required three (3) business day timeframe will waive the right to request that an advisor be appointed.

Only relevant questions, as determined by the Hearing Officer, may be asked of a party or witness. Questions and evidence about the complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant and will not be permitted, except where:

  1. The questions and evidence about the complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the respondent committed the conduct alleged by the complainant; or
  2. The questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the respondent and are offered to prove consent.

If a party or witness does not submit to cross-examination at the live hearing, either due to absence from the hearing or due to the party’s or witness’s refusal to answer cross-examination or other questions, the Hearing Office will not rely on any statement of that party or witness in reaching a determination regarding responsibility; however, the Hearing Officer will not draw an inference about the determination regarding responsibility based solely on a party’s or witness’s absence from the live hearing or refusal to answer cross-examination or other questions.

The College will make all evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the allegations raised in the formal complaint available for the parties’ inspection and review during the hearing. In addition, the College will create an audio or audiovisual recording, or transcript, of the live hearing, which the Title IX Coordinator will make available to the parties for inspection and review upon request.

Determination Regarding Responsibility

Within ten (10) business days after the conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Officer will make a decision regarding responsibility. The Hearing Officer will apply a preponderance of the evidence standard when determining responsibility. With seven (7) business days of reaching his/her decision, the Hearing Officer will issue a written determination to both parties simultaneously. The written determination will include:

  1. Identification of the allegations potentially constituting sexual harassment as defined in 34 C.F.R. § 106.30 (Title IX) and/or constituting sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking pursuant to the Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act;
  2. A description of the procedural steps taken from the receipt of the formal complaint through the determination, including any notifications to the parties, interviews with parties and witnesses, site visits, methods used to gather other evidence, and hearings held;
  3. Findings of fact supporting the determination;
  4. Conclusions regarding the application of the Student Code of conduct or other conduct standards to the facts;
  5. A statement of, and rationale for, the result as to each allegation, including a determination regarding responsibility, any disciplinary sanctions the College imposes on the respondent, and whether remedies designed to restore or preserve equal access to the College’s education program or activity will be provided by the College to the complainant; and
  6. The procedures and permissible bases for the complainant and respondent to appeal.

Appeals

Both parties will have the right to appeal any determination regarding responsibility, and any dismissal of a formal complaint or allegations therein, to the Appellate Hearing Officer or designee assigned in the written determination above (VII.G.6). An appeal must be based on one or more of the following grounds:

  1. A procedural irregularity occurred;
  2. New evidence or information exists that could affect the outcome of the matter;
  3. The Title IX Coordinator, Investigator, or Hearing Officer had a conflict of interest or bias for or against complainants or respondents generally, or the individual complainant or respondent, that affect the outcome of the matter; and/or
  4. The sanction is disproportionate with the violation.

A party who wishes to appeal a determination regarding responsibility or a dismissal of a formal complaint or allegations therein must submit a written appeal request to the Title IX Coordinator with seven (7) business days of the party’s receipt of the written determination or written dismissal notice. The written appeal request must identify the ground(s) on which the party seeks to appeal the determination or dismissal.

Within seven (7) business days of the Title IX Coordinator’s receipt of an appeal request, the Title IX Coordinator will forward the appeal request to the Vice President designated to resolve the appeal or designee and will notify the other party in writing that an appeal has been filed. Before reaching a determination regarding the appeal, the Appellate Hearing Officer will afford both parties an equal opportunity to submit a statement in support of, or challenging, the determination or responsibility or dismissal that is the subject of the appeal. Within seven (7) business days after the Appellate Hearing officer or designee has concluded his/her review of the appeal, the Appellate Hearing officer or designee will issue a written decision simultaneously to both parties, describing the outcome of the appeal and the rationale for the outcome. The Appellate Hearing Officer or designee’s decision is final.

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