Students may be surprised to learn that Title IX does not require schools to provide appeal rights to either the claimant or the respondent, but most schools will do so. If schools does decide to provide appeals, they are to give equal opportunity to both parties in the case. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (DOE-OCR) recommends that schools provide relief through the Title IX appeal process if there is an error in the proceedings, new evidence becomes available that could shift the verdict of the case, or a student’s imposed sanction is disproportionate to the case. The time frame for filing a Title IX appeal is usually very short: within mere days after the decision has been made. Some schools provided even less time.
If the school provides Title IX appeals for one party, it must provide it for the other to remain in compliance. Also, the standard of review that the school applies to one party’s appeal must be applied to the other party. Individual schools can decide on their own Title IX appeals procedure as long as the the entire disciplinary process provides:
- Quick and fair resolutions to the Title IX sexual misconduct allegations
- Necessary steps are take to protect the complainant during the whole process
Because the appeals process is equal for both parties, a respondent must carefully consider if bringing up an appeal for an imposed sanction is worth it. If they argue that suspension is too severe of a punishment for their violation, the complainant can file an appeal that suspension was too lenient and possibly bring a harsher sentence if successful. Though this outcome may be unlikely, some schools can impose stricter sentences on a respondent based on the outcome of the appeals.
The decision to appeal is complicated and it is best made with the help of an experienced attorney that can properly weigh your options. They can discuss with you and potential disadvantages to the appeal and fully prepare you to make an educated decision that is the best for your situation.