What Are a Survivor’s Reporting Options Under Title IX?
If you have experienced dating abuse or sexual assault while attending a Title IX school (that is, a school that receives federal funding), you have the option under Title IX to report the crime to your school. This is also known as “filing a complaint.” To do this, you can report to certain employees: the Title IX Coordinator, a Responsible Employee or a Confidential Employee.
The Title IX Coordinator is the person hired by a school to make sure that the school is meeting all the requirements of the law under Title IX. When an incident is reported directly to the Title IX Coordinator, it is their job to work with the school to ensure that you receive the appropriate support and resources for your situation. They are also responsible for making sure that every effort is made by the school to honor your wishes, that an investigation into the incident happens in a timely and fair manner and that the investigation process follows the law. So, it’s important to understand that if you report to the Title IX Coordinator, the school will begin a formal investigation into the incident. Keep in mind that a school can move ahead with an investigation against a survivor’s wishes. Your school should list who the Title IX Coordinator is on its website. You can also ask administrative staff who the Title IX Coordinator is at your school.
Responsible Employees tend to be teachers, coaches, advisors, etc. If a Responsible Employee is told about an incident of assault, abuse or violence, they have the duty to report the incident to the school’s Title IX Coordinator. An investigation process should follow the report, and accommodations and services should be offered to the survivor.
Confidential Employees tend to be people such as pastoral counselors, licensed counselors and medical staff. A Confidential Employee has privilege and does not have the duty of reporting an incident to the Title IX coordinator. When an incident of sexual assault/stalking/dating abuse is reported to a Confidential Employee, a survivor should be offered accommodations and services, but no report should be made. A survivor has the right to make a report at a later time to a Responsible Employee and/or the Title IX Coordinator.
Each school is different, so there is no universal rule about which employees are designated Responsible or Confidential. To learn more, a student can search for their school’s Title IX policies online or get them from the Title IX Coordinator. Another option is to ask a staff member if they are a Confidential or Responsible Employee for Title IX before disclosing any incidents of assault, abuse or violence.
If a survivor is unsure about whether they want to make a formal report to their school, talking with a Confidential Employee first is an option. If a survivor wants accommodations that require the removal or restriction of the perpetrator — such as a Campus No Contact Order or having the perpetrator moved out of a survivor’s residence hall — they would need to make a report.
It’s also important to note that making a report to school authorities is not the same as making a police report. Contacting local police means entering the criminal justice system, which is different from your school or campus.
What If the Survivor Is Under 18?
If a survivor is a minor (under 18), it’s important to recognize that a report of abuse or violence to school staff may not be kept confidential due to mandatory reporting laws. These laws vary by state. Teachers, counselors and other school personnel are often mandatory reporters. This means that they are required by law to report abuse, violence and/or neglect against a minor to the police, Child Protective Services (CPS) or other child abuse reporting agency.
If a survivor has concerns about speaking with someone who may be a mandatory reporter, it may be helpful to talk in hypothetical terms without naming names (for example, “I have a friend who…”). Another option is to reach out to ChildHelp.org.
What If a School Fails to Respond to a Title IX Complaint?
If a school does not appropriately respond to Title IX complaints, survivors have a few legal options they can consider. One is filing complaints against the school’s actions to the U.S. Department of Education. Additionally, a survivor can file a Title IX lawsuit against their school or go the route of a civil lawsuit.
There are pros and cons to these options, and having legal support is really important. Check out Know Your IX’s information and tips for finding a lawyer.
Need more information or additional support? Check out our Resources page or call, chat or text with a loveisrespect advocate. Please note that we are NOT legal advocates at loveisrespect and can’t provide legal advice. However, if needed we can refer you to legal resources or a legal advocate who can help!