Title IX FAQs
On May 6, 2020, the United States Department of Education posted extensive and final Title IX regulations that took effect on August 14, 2020. The following frequently asked questions provide a generalized overview of the new Title IX regulations and procedures. OCC’s Title IX Policy specifically details the College’s duties and obligations under the revised regulations.
What is Title IX?
Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a Federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions that receive Federal funding. The law states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education or program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Who does Title IX apply to?
Title IX applies to all educational institutions that receive Federal funds.
Who is protected by Title IX?
Any person in the United States who is involved in an educational program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance. This includes students, faculty and staff.
What does the College’s education program or activity include?
Education program or activity includes locations, events or circumstances in the United States over which the College exercises substantial control over both the Respondent (the individual who is alleged to have engaged in prohibited sexual harassment or sexual misconduct as defined in the College’s Title IX policy )and the context in which the alleged sexual harassment occurred.
How do I file a report of prohibited sexual harassment or sexual misconduct?
Can I make an anonymous Title IX incident report?
Yes. Any individual can make an anonymous report concerning an act of prohibited sexual harassment. Please remember, however, that the College’s ability to respond to an anonymous incident report may be limited. The Title IX Coordinator receiving an anonymous incident report will determine any possible appropriate steps in consultation with the Clery Team and Clery Act obligations. Keep in mind that a Formal Complaint alleging prohibited sexual harassment cannot be filed anonymously.
What is the difference between an incident report of suspected Title IX sexual harassment or sexual misconduct versus a Formal Complaint alleging Title IX sexual harassment or sexual misconduct?
A report of suspected Title IX sexual harassment or sexual misconduct will be evaluated by the Title IX Coordinator with the Complainant at the intake interview. A report must be promptly reviewed for jurisdictional elements. In addition to supportive measures, the Title IX Coordinator will determine if the facts in the report as alleged, constitute a violation of the Title IX policy. If the facts, as alleged, constitute a violation of the Title IX policy, the Title IX Coordinator will explain the process for filing a Formal Complaint. A Formal Complaint will proceed with an investigation or hearing.
Who can report sexual harassment or sexual misconduct?
Any person may report sexual harassment or sexual misconduct directly to the Title IX Coordinator.
Can I make a report of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct on behalf of someone else?
Yes. Any individual may notify the Title IX Coordinator if they believe someone else has experienced prohibited sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.
When should a report of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct be made?
A report can be made at any time. OCC does not limit the timeframe for reporting an incident regardless of when an incident occurred. The College encourages individuals to report an incident as soon as possible because memories fade and evidence may be lost over time.
I am a staff member at OCC with teaching responsibilities. What if I am not sure whether to report an incident?
OCC recognizes that there will be circumstances where a staff or faculty member may be unsure whether prohibited sexual harassment or misconduct has occurred. In these circumstances, however, one should report concerns to the Title IX Coordinator.
What if I am not sure whether the alleged conduct actually occurred? Am I still obligated to report?
All OCC staff, faculty and employees are required to report all instances of suspected sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. Staff, faculty and employees are not expected to ascertain whether the particular conduct did or did not occur.
Can I be disciplined or subject to negative consequences if, in good faith, I report suspected sexual harassment or misconduct?
No. OCC does not tolerate retaliation. Good faith reports of suspected illegal activity and sexual harassment or misconduct will not jeopardize employment or result in discipline (student or employee).
What if my report turns out to be inaccurate?
Good faith reports of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, even those that turn out to be inaccurate, will not jeopardize employment or result in discipline (student or employee).
Why is it important that faculty and staff members report matters pertaining to sexual harassment or misconduct?
It is important that OCC provide individuals who believe that they have been victims of sexual harassment or misconduct with information regarding resources, options, and supportive measures that may be available to them. This information is best provided through the Title IX Coordinator’s office. In addition, OCC must consider the best interests of the OCC community, including whether the alleged conduct presents a continued serious threat to the College community.
Am I required to report sexual harassment or misconduct involving my co-workers? What about sexual harassment or misconduct involving third parties?
Yes to both questions if the misconduct occurred on OCC’s campus, or in the local vicinity of the campus, or if the conduct occurred off campus in association with OCC-sponsored programs or activities. The Title IX Coordinator will review the facts to determine the appropriate College policy to proceed for review.
Am I required to report sexual harassment or misconduct that occurs off campus?
Yes. If the conduct occurred in the local vicinity of OCC’s campus or occurred as part of an OCC-sponsored program or activity, it must be reported. What matters is that the conduct is associated with an OCC-sponsored educational program or activity.
Must OCC faculty and staff report suspected child abuse (17 and under)?
Yes. Under Michigan law, mandatory reporters, which includes law enforcement officers, teachers, school administrators and counselors, who suspect child abuse or neglect must make an immediate verbal report to Child Protective Services (CPS) by calling 855-444-3911. Mandated reporters are also required to file a written report with CPS within 72 hours. Mandated reporters must notify OCC Public Safety of the report to CPS. Information about reporting abuse and neglect can be found under the Abuse & Neglect Section of the Department of Human Services website at www.Michigan.gov/dhs.
Employees who are not mandatory reporters who suspect child abuse or neglect must notify OCC Public Safety.
Employees who knowingly fail to report suspected child abuse, child neglect or sexual assault may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
What is prohibited sexual harassment or sexual misconduct under Title IX?
Prohibited Title IX conduct can include:
- Dating Violence
- Domestic Violence
- Sexual Assault
- Sex Based Stalking
- Any instance of quid pro quo harassment by a College employee
- Any unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would find so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies any person, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity, equal access to an educational program or activity of OCC.
Definitions of prohibited Title IX sexual harassment and sexual misconduct are found at in OCC’s Title IX Policy, Section II.
What is quid pro quo harassment?
This happens when a College employee requires an individual’s participation in sexual conduct in order to provide aid, a benefit, or service.
What must the Title IX Coordinator do after receiving a Title IX incident report?
The Title IX Coordinator must do the following:
- Promptly and confidentially contact the Complainant to discuss the availability of supportive measures.
- Inform the Complainant of the availability of supportive measures with or without the filing of a Formal Complaint.
- Consider the Complainant’s wishes as to supportive measures.
- Explain to the Complainant the process for filing a Formal Complaint.
What are supportive measures?
Individualized free services that are non-punitive, non-disciplinary and not unreasonably burdensome to either party (Complainant or Respondent) while also designed to ensure equal educational access, protect safety and deter sexual harassment. Examples may include but are not limited to:
- Academic support
- Class and work schedule changes
- Mutual ban on contact (no contact directive)
- Increased security or other measures determined on a case by case basis
Supportive measures are available regardless of whether the matter is reported to the College for the purpose of initiating a proceeding under this Policy and before, after, and regardless of whether a formal complaint is filed.
Who is the Complainant under the College’s Title IX policy?
Any person who is the victim of, or alleged to be the victim of, prohibited sexual harassment or sexual misconduct as defined in the College’s Title IX policy.
Who is the Respondent under the College’s Title IX policy?
Any individual who is alleged to have engaged in prohibited sexual harassment or sexual misconduct as defined in the College’s Title IX policy.
How will the privacy rights of the Complainant and Respondent be respected?
OCC is firmly committed to protecting the privacy of all individuals involved in the investigation and resolution of reports filed under the Title IX policy. The College will make all reasonable efforts to protect the privacy of participants in accordance with state and federal law. The College generally will not release the names of the Complainant or the Respondent to the general public without express written consent or absent another exception consistent with law. The release of names and education records will be guided by and in accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Access to an employee’s personnel records may be restricted by state and Federal privacy laws.
What are my rights as a Respondent?
A decision by the Title IX Coordinator to accept a complaint does not presume that the conduct, as alleged, has occurred. A Respondent is presumed not responsible unless and until, at the conclusion of a formal investigation and adjudication or informal resolution process, there has been either a determination of responsibility or an admission of responsibility has been made. Respondents are also entitled to receive supportive measures.
Who can assist the Complainant or the Respondent through the Title IX Resolution process?
In addition to supportive measures, both parties have a right to an Advisor of their choice who could be a parent, friend, attorney or union advisor. The College recognizes that an employee may wish to have their union representative as well as an advisor at any stage of the Title IX process. In the spirit of fairness, if the other party (either the Complainant or Respondent) has two advisors, the other party would also be entitled to two advisors (e.g. parent, attorney or other support person).
Are there other possible resolutions besides an investigation and a hearing?
OCC’s Title IX policy offers two ways to resolve a potential violation of policy: informal resolution or investigation and hearing. Keep in mind, however, that when the allegations are that an employee engaged in prohibited conduct against a student, the informal resolution process cannot be used and instead the matter must be resolved through the investigation and hearing process.
How is a Formal complaint resolved through the informal resolution process?
After both the Complainant and the Respondent have been provided written notice of the specific conduct alleged and the policy violations, both parties must voluntarily agree in writing to resolve the matter through informal resolution. The informal resolution process involves the use of trained mediators. The process is generally expected to be completed within 30 days.
What are the requirements for filing a Formal Complain of prohibited sexual harassment or sexual misconduct?
A Formal Complaint cannot be anonymous. A Formal Complaint must have the Complainant’s digital or physical signature and must also include information regarding where and when the incident occurred; the specific facts showing the prohibited sexual harassment or sexual misconduct; the identity of the Respondent, if known, and a request for an investigation. After two days, the Title IX Coordinator will put the Respondent and Complainant on notice of the allegation of prohibited sexual harassment or sexual misconduct and start the investigation process.
Do I have to meet with the Title IX Coordinator prior to filing a Formal Complaint?
No. An individual may file a Formal Complaint with the Title IX Coordinator by US Mail, email or in person. As noted in the prior answer, the Complainant must physically or digitally sign the complaint and must indicate where and when the incident occurred, the specific facts showing the prohibited conduct, the identity of the Respondent, and a request for an investigation. The Title IX Coordinator will then examine the Formal Complaint for Title IX jurisdiction.
Can the Title IX Coordinator ever dismiss a Formal Complaint?
Yes. The Title IX Coordinator must dismiss a complaint if it is determined that the alleged conduct does not meet Title IX’s jurisdictional requirements. The facts, as alleged however, may support a finding that another OCC policy has been violated. If this is the case, both parties will be notified of such a decision and the opportunity to appeal the determination that the Title IX jurisdictional requirements have not been met.
What other College policies may apply if Title IX jurisdiction is not met?
OCC has additional policies or procedures that may apply to the facts alleged.
What if I change my mind and do not wish a Formal Complaint to proceed?
The Title IX Coordinator has the discretion to dismiss a Formal Complaint if the Complainant indicates in writing that he/she does not wish to proceed. Keep in mind, if the facts show that another policy has been violated, the College may transfer the case for handling under the appropriate policy. Both parties will be notified in writing of this decision along with their appeal rights.
Can the Title IX Coordinator initiate or continue with a Formal Complaint over my objection?
Yes. In some instances, the Title IX Coordinator shall have the discretion to sign and initiate an investigation over a Complainant’s objections when the facts, as alleged, involve violence, the use of weapons, serial predatory actions or other similar factors. When the Title IX Coordinator signs a Formal Complaint, she/he does not become the Complainant under the policy.
Are there any other reasons why a Title IX Coordinator would dismiss a Formal Complaint?
Yes. The Title IX Coordinator has the discretion to dismiss the Formal Complaint if the Respondent is no longer enrolled or employed at the College, or if the circumstances prevent the College from gathering sufficient evidence to reach a determination.
What are the steps of an investigation following the issuance of a Formal Complaint?
- Notice of Investigation: Within a reasonable time following the filing of a Formal Complaint, the Respondent and Complainant shall be provided, in writing, the Notice of Investigation containing the specific conduct alleged to have occurred; a copy of the alleged policy violations; an explanation regarding the right to an advisor, the date and time of the interview with the investigator, and a statement that the decision to proceed with an investigation and hearing does not presume that the prohibited conduct occurred and that a Respondent is presumed not responsible unless and until there is a determination of responsibility.
- Interview: A trained and unbiased investigator will interview all parties and relevant witnesses and will gather relevant documentary evidence. Interview summaries shall be shared with the interviewees who can comment on the statements made in the interview.
- Evidence Review: At the conclusion of the interviews and fact gathering, the investigator will provide each party, and their advisor, the opportunity to review all of the evidence. Each party shall have 10 days to respond to the evidence and may provide a written response to the investigator. The investigator shall prepare a written report summarizing all of the relevant evidence gathered all of the investigation steps taken which shall be given to both sides.
What is the timeline to complete an Investigation?
OCC strives to complete the investigation process within 40 days which may be extended for good cause by the Title IX Coordinator upon written notification to the parties.
What happens at a hearing?
- Notice of Hearing: Following the submission of the final investigation report, each party shall be provided with a Notice of Hearing which will provide information regarding the date of the hearing and the identity of the Hearing Officer. The hearing shall be scheduled no less than 10 business days from the date of the Notice of Hearing. The Notice of Hearing shall also list deadlines for the submission of evidence, names of witnesses and proposed questions which shall be reviewed by the Hearing Officer for relevance considerations.
- Advisors: Only the Hearing Officer and Advisors may ask questions of the other party and of witnesses. The parties are not allowed to question each other. A Hearing Advisor of OCC’s choosing shall be provided for any party who does not have a Hearing Advisor.
- Live testimony: Hearings will be conducted in person or via live video conferencing.
- Testimony of Witnesses: The Complainant, Respondent and Hearing Officer all have the right to call witnesses. A witness must have information relevant to the charged incident. Parties will not be allowed to call as a Witness anyone who was not first interviewed by the investigator.
Who issues the written determination following the investigation and the hearing?
The Hearing Officer, who cannot be the Title IX Coordinator or the Investigator.
How does the Hearing Officer conclude the hearing?
The Hearing Officer will issue a written determination regarding responsibility with findings of fact; conclusions regarding whether the alleged conduct occurred and what policy provisions were violated; and the rationale for the results.
What standard of evidence does the Hearing Officer use?
Any decision regarding responsibility will be determined by a preponderance of the evidence, which means “more likely than not.”
If there is a finding of responsibility by the Hearing Officer, who determines remedies and sanctions?
- Remedies: Following adjudication, where there is a finding of responsibility, the Complainant will be offered such remedies designed to restore or preserve equal access to OCC’s programs or activities.
- Sanctions: If there is a finding of responsibility, the Title IX Coordinator will contact the appropriate sanctioning officer who will determine the proper sanction. Persons who violate one or more of OCC’s policies will be disciplined. The sanction will depend on the nature of the offense as well as any prior disciplinary history and will be imposed in accordance with all applicable OCC rules, policies and procedures. Information must also be sent to both parties regarding how to file an appeal.
Do the Complainant and Respondent have the right to appeal the outcome of the Hearing?
Yes. Appeals may be filed by either party to the Appeals Officer. Appeals may be filed on the following bases: Procedural Error that significantly impacted the outcome of the Investigation or Hearing; newly discovered evidence; actual conflict of interest by the Title IX Coordinator, Investigator or Hearing Officer.
What are the appeal rights of union members?
If a sanction is imposed on a Respondent union member, this individual has the right to challenge the sanction pursuant to the arbitration provisions in the collective bargaining agreement. Appeals may be filed for procedural error; new evidence; actual conflict of interest or bias. An arbitrator shall not have the right to change the underlying findings of the Hearing Officer or the Appeals Officer.
What is the outside governmental agency that enforces Title IX?
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) enforces, among other statutes, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
For assistance related to Title IX or other civil rights laws, the OCR can be contacted at OCR@ed.gov or 1-800-421-3481, TDD 1-800-877-8339; U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington DC 20202-1328; or U.S. Department of Education, 1350 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.