Published On: Wed, Mar 23rd, 2022

How Fast Must My School Investigate a Title IX Complaint?

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, “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 program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” In practice, Title IX applies to nearly all colleges and universities in the U.S., and it covers issues ranging from sexual harassment and discrimination to other forms of sexual misconduct on campuses. When a person believes their Title IX rights have been violated, they can file a complaint through the institution’s formal complaint process. For anyone who has been accused of a Title IX violation, it can be stressful to realize that a complaint has been filed without understanding the timeline for the investigation or how long you must wait before you receive a determination about whether you are responsible for a violation. Accordingly, you may be wondering how fast your school must investigate a Title IX complaint. 

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While there is no objective timetable, there are guidelines that school must follow, and a Title IX defense lawyer can help to ensure that your rights as a respondent are not violated in the process. 

Schools Must Respond Promptly to a Title IX Complaint

There is no specific timeline listed for a school’s investigation of a Title IX complaint, but federal law does require schools to respond promptly to an allegation that is made. 

More specifically, when a school receives an allegation of sexual harassment or misconduct made through a formal Title IX complaint, the school is required to follow a specific grievance process that must “include reasonably prompt time frames for conclusion of the grievance process, including reasonably prompt time frames for filing and resolving appeals and information resolution processes.” 

While the grievance process, including the Title IX investigation, must be conducted within a reasonably prompt time frame, federal law does clarify that the grievance process also must allow “for the temporary delay of the grievance process or the limited extension of time frames for good cause.” Good cause may include, for instance, difficulty of interviewing a particular witness, or an extended time frame for obtaining certain evidence that is relevant to the complaint.

Prompt Investigations Are Usually About 60 Days

There is no specific timeline that a school must follow for investigating a complaint other than abiding by a “reasonably prompt time frame.” While the term reasonably prompt can seem somewhat vague, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has indicated that, based on previous Title IX investigations, “a typical investigation takes approximately 60 calendar days following receipt of the complaint.” 

The OCR also explains that schools must have grievance procedures in place that provide a time frame in which the investigation will be conducted, the time frame in which the complainant and respondent will be informed of the outcome, and the time frame for an appeal. While 60 calendar days may be typical, the OCR underscores that the definition of what constitutes a prompt investigation “will vary depending on the complexity of the investigation and the severity and extent of the harassment.”

If you believe a complaint against you has not been investigated in a fair and reasonable amount of time, you should seek advice from a Title IX defense attorney.

Author: Lee Sadawski

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