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Title IX – Procedures

The University of Saint Francis process for handling allegations of sexual misconduct involves an immediate initial investigation to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe the nondiscrimination policy has been violated. If so, the university will initiate a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation. This investigation is designed to provide a fair and reliable determination about whether the University nondiscrimination policy has been violated. If so, the University will implement a prompt and effective remedy designed to end the discrimination, prevent its recurrence and address its effects.

INITIAL ASSESSMENT

Upon receiving a complaint, the Title IX Coordinator will provide information to the reporting individual on the availability of supportive measures, the right to file a formal complaint, and how to file such a complaint.

The Office of Student Affairs reviews all reports of Sexual Harassment under this policy under the direction of the Title IX Coordinator or designee for an initial assessment of the reported information. Available resolution options will be guided by the availability of information and evidence suggesting that a policy violation may have occurred; the University’s obligation to investigate and provide appropriate remedies to eliminate, prevent, and address the effects of the prohibited conduct; and the availability or desire of the Complainant to participate in an investigation or other resolution.

Upon completion of an initial assessment, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will determine the available options for resolution and will communicate these options to the parties.

If the reporting individual (or the University) elects to file a formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator will provide written notice to the Respondent within ten days including:

  • The actual allegations of facts that constitute Sexual Harassment and any evidence that supports this;
  • That there is a presumption of innocence in their favor;
  • That all parties are entitled to advisor of their choice;
  • That all parties can inspect and review evidence; and,
  • Information regarding any code of conduct provisions that prohibit false statements made in bad faith.

DISMISSAL OF COMPLAINT

In the event that prior to, or in the course of, an investigation, the University determines that the allegations fail to meet the definition of Sexual Harassment or did not occur while in United States and under the University’s educational program or activity, the investigation and formal complaint will be dismissed. Such complaints may still be resolved through an informal resolution process as outlined above or according to procedures set forth in the Student Code of Conduct.

The University reserves the right to dismiss the complaint and stop the investigation if:

  • The Complainant notifies the Title IX Coordinator in writing that they wish to withdraw their complaint;
  • The Respondent is no longer enrolled in or employed by the University; or
  • Specific circumstances prevent the school from gathering sufficient evidence to reach a determination about allegations (e.g. lack of participation in the investigative process by parties or witnesses).

If the University dismisses the complaint for any reason, either party may appeal the decision as outlined in this policy’s appeals process.

INFORMAL RESOLUTION

Informal resolution may be utilized in some circumstances if a formal complaint is filed.

The usage of an informal resolution process is limited in a number of ways:

  • Informal resolution is unavailable if the Respondent is an employee of the school.
  • Informal resolution may only be used if any and all parties to an investigation agree to it.

In all cases, the University will inform the parties of the right to end the informal resolution process at any time. If a party chooses to end the informal resolution process, the University will inform the Complainant of options, including the option to begin the investigative resolution process.

The University will provide a facilitator, mediator, or decision-maker that is free from conflicts of interest and has received special training in order to facilitate resolution of the complaint.

Informal resolution can take any form that the parties agree upon. The Title IX Coordinator or designee will work with the parties to develop a form of resolution that adequately resolves the needs of the parties.

Depending on the form chosen, it may be possible for a Complainant to maintain anonymity throughout the informal resolution process.

As part of the resolution process, additional measures (including, but not limited to educational programming, training, regular meetings with an appropriate university individual or resource, extensions of no contact orders, or counseling sessions) may be agreed upon.

FORMAL RESOLUTION AND HEARINGS

The Office of Student Affairs may resolve a report of Sexual Harassment through its formal resolution process when the alleged Sexual Harassment, if true, would be prohibited under applicable University policy. In instances when informal resolution is inappropriate, when any party requests, or when the University requires formal investigation, the University will consider the concerns and rights of all parties and provide a prompt, fair, impartial, and equitable process.

Investigation

  • Following the filing of a Formal Complaint, an Investigator will be assigned to the complaint by the Title IX Coordinator. During the investigation, the Investigator will seek to meet separately with the Complainant, Respondent, and any relevant witnesses who may have information relevant to the incident. The Investigator may also gather or request other relevant information or evidence when available and appropriate. Both the Complainant and Respondent will be asked to identify witnesses and provide other relevant information in a timely manner to facilitate prompt resolution of the complaint.
  • Although both the Complainant and Respondent are advised to participate in the investigation process to enable a fair and equitable resolution to any complaint, neither the Complainant nor the Respondent are required to participate in the investigation process.
  • During the investigation process, parties have an equitable right to:

a. Receive notice before participating in an interview with sufficient time to prepare for meaningful participation;

b. A process with reasonably prompt timeframes, with extensions for good cause, as described in the Procedure section below;

c. Present relevant information to the Investigator, including evidence and witnesses;

d. Receive timely and equal access to any relevant information, documentation, and evidence gathered during the investigation;

e. Have an advisor of their choosing, or through appointment by the University, including an attorney, advocate, or other support person who is not a potential witness in the investigation or could otherwise compromise the investigation, who provides support throughout the formal resolution process, including being present for any meetings or hearings; and

f. Investigators who are adequately trained to resolve cases of alleged Sexual Harassment, are familiar with applicable policies and procedures, and who do not have a conflict of interest or bias for or against either party.

  • Following the completion of the investigation, the Investigator will complete an investigative report on the allegations contained in the Formal Complaint.  This report will be given to all parties, who have ten days to respond to the Investigator’s findings before the report is finalized. The finalized report is then circulated for no less than ten days before a hearing is held.

Hearings

  • All hearings are overseen by a Decision Maker. All Decision Makers have received special training on how to be impartial and are assigned to cases by the Title IX Coordinator to avoid any bias and present an objective analysis of the evidence. In no case is the Investigator for a given case also the Decision Maker.
  • Hearings are not legal proceedings and do not follow courtroom procedure or the formal rules of evidence. During any hearings, each party must have an advisor present to ask questions to the other party. This advisor does not need to be licensed to practice law and may be a person of the party’s choice or, if they do not have an advisor, the University will provide an advisor for them.
  • Questioning & Cross-Examinations

a. The Decision Maker may question individual parties and witnesses.

b. Parties will have the opportunity to cross-examine the party or witness. Parties may never ask questions directly, and questions must be asked to the other party through the use of a party’s advisor. All questions asked must be relevant. Any questions determined not to be relevant by the Decision Maker are not required to be answered.

c. If a party or witness is absent from the live hearing or refuses to answer cross-examination or other questions, the Decision Maker may not rely on any statement of that person in reaching a determination of responsibility. The Decision Maker may not draw an inference about the determination regarding responsibility based solely on a party’s or witness’ absence from the live hearing or refusal to answer cross-examination or other questions.

  • If, at any point during the hearing, the Decision Maker determines that unresolved issues exist that could be clarified through additional investigation time, the Decision Maker may suspend the hearing and reconvene it in a timely manner that accommodates further investigation.
  • Hearings may be conducted virtually through the use of technology if agreed to by both parties.
  • All hearings will be memorialized through an audio or audiovisual record or transcript of the live hearing. The recording or transcript will be made available for parties to inspect and review following their completion. The record shall be the property of the University and housed in the Office of Student Affairs.

Resolution

  • The Decision Maker will communicate his or her decision to both parties, concurrently. The Decision Maker will communicate the decision in writing and orally as soon as possible after the hearing. In all cases, the Decision Maker will send the parties a final outcome letter within ten days of the conclusion of the hearing.
  • The Decision Maker bases all conclusions by examining all evidence from the investigation and the hearing. Their conclusion is based on the Preponderance of the Evidence standard: If the evidence indicates that it is more likely than not that Respondent committed the alleged act(s), then the Respondent will be found responsible for violating this policy.
  • If the Respondent is found responsible for violating this policy, the Decision Maker will consult with the appropriate individuals in order to determine the corrective actions and/or sanctions to resolve the complaint. Any such corrective actions and/or sanctions will be outlined in the Decision Maker’s written decision.

APPEALS PROCESS

If either party disagrees with the outcome of the Decision Maker’s determination, they must file a written appeal with the Title IX Coordinator within ten working/business days.

Appeals may be filed due to:

  • A procedural irregularity that affected the outcome.
  • New evidence being discovered that was not reasonably available at the time of the determination or dismissal.
  • A conflict of interest or bias for or against complainants or respondents generally or the individual complainant or respondent that affected the outcome of the matter of the Investigator or investigator(s), or decision-maker(s).

The Title IX Coordinator will examine all evidence in order to determine if the appeal has merit. In the event that the Title IX Coordinator was previously an Investigator or Decision Maker in the case, a new decision-maker, will make this determination. In either case, the Title IX Coordinator or new decision- maker will make an unbiased objective conclusion as to the appeal’s merit and issue a written decision describing the result of the appeal and the rationale for the result, and will provide the written decision simultaneously to both parties.