Based upon the experience of Title IX Consult’s experts and public Title IX annual reports from institutions nationwide, the number of complaints that a Title IX office receives often spike during the month of November when compared to other months. To manage these claims and serve the needs of the parties in these actions, the Title IX Coordinator should always consider whether a particular case might benefit from an informal resolution.
Initially, it is important to remember that the 2020 Title IX regulations set forth procedural requirements for the informal resolution process. First, the impacted party must file a formal complaint with the Title IX office. Then, the parties must be advised about the Title IX informal resolution process, and both parties must agree in writing to proceed informally. Although the regulations do not articulate many specifics for a compliant informal process, they do require the following: the informal process facilitator be trained on Title IX law; the process allow the parties to stop at any time before reaching resolution and revert to the formal process; and, any resolution be set forth in writing and signed by the parties.
These procedural requirements may seem onerous for what is an “informal” process, but there are still many compelling reasons to explore this option, including:
Conducting a Title IX investigation under the 2020 regulations is a time-consuming process that often cannot be completed as expeditiously as the parties would like, particularly in higher education institutions where live hearings are required. An informal resolution process often eliminates the need for aspects of the time-intensive investigation, i.e., sharing of all investigation materials, required timelines for review of investigation materials and reports by the parties, and the separation of the investigator and decision-maker roles.
Parties have greater control over outcomes
In a traditional Title IX investigation, an investigation concludes with the decision-maker issuing a finding of whether the responding party has violated the school’s Title IX policy and, if a violation is found, determining the appropriate sanction. Informal resolution allows the parties to explore how they would like the matter to conclude and incorporate resolutions that would not be available in the formal process but may be important to the parties (i.e., apologies).
Better compliance with outcomes
Many campuses have found that because the parties in an informal resolution essentially agree to the terms, they comply more readily with the agreement and require less monitoring and/or ongoing support from the Title IX office after the investigation ends.