The Investigatory Process
Beginning the process:
The investigation process begins with written notices to both the respondent and complainant. The notice now has to include the identities of both parties, per the new changes to Title IX. The complainant isn’t allowed to remain anonymous to the respondent anymore, and the notice must indicate the date and location of the alleged incident. It must also state that the respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct and inform both parties that they may have an adviser. This advisor is allowed to inspect and review evidence in the case. As a result, parents can now insist that they or attorneys participate in the investigative process.
The Title IX Coordinator then designates an investigator and a decision maker, who cannot be the same person. At WHS, these roles would go to the administrators. The investigator interviews the complainant and the respondent, witnesses and any other relevant parties. Their job is to determine what’s credible and what’s not. They then compose a written report of their finding, which is sent to the complainant, respondent and decision maker.
The decision maker:
The role of the decision maker is to determine whether sexual harassment occurred or not. Per the new regulations, the decision maker is to use a preponderance of the evidence standard in executing their decision. This means that for the respondent to be found guilty, it is more likely than not sexual harassment occurred.
Part of this determination is offering both the complainant and respondent the opportunity to submit relevant questions to any party or witness, to respond to questions from another party or offer additional limited followup. The decision maker determines if questions are relevant or not since parties cannot ask irrelevant questions.
Questions that call for a response related to the complainant’s sexual behavior and history are not relevant unless they’re offered to prove that someone other than the respondent was responsible for the alleged harassment, or if they’re offered to prove the alleged behavior was consensual.