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An experienced litigator, Ashling advises education institutions and key individuals on Title IX policies, procedures, investigations, and hearings. She is an ATIXA-certified Level One Civil Rights Investigator who conducts inquiries into allegations of sexual misconduct, discrimination, harassment, and other acts of misconduct at private and public colleges and universities. Ashling regularly partners with a second ATIXA-certified investigator with a law enforcement background and extensive trauma-informed training to manage these investigations, an approach that has proven to be an effective method for conducting investigations.

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The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided what constitutes actual notice for sexual harassment in Title IX cases. A school has actual knowledge, also referred to as actual notice, when a report is made to any school official, regardless of whether the school has substantiated the facts of the alleged assault. This ruling impacts schools and other organizations subject to Title IX if they fail to properly protect students and investigate claims once a sexual assault has been reported.

Continue Reading Doe v. Fairfax Ruling: Sexual Assault Reports Constitute Actual Notice

Who would have thought in the fall of 2019, when we were all waiting with bated breath for U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to issue the new Title IX regulations that the regulations would instead be issued in the spring during a pandemic? Yes, indeed— the new Title IX regulations are here and have arrived when all students and educators are working remotely. Of particular note:

  • Cross-Examination: Cross-exam is now permitted by “advisors” to the students. Advisors can be attorneys, but do not have to be. That means non-lawyers will be allowed to cross-examine with no judge and no rules of evidence.
  • Sexual Harassment: The Department of Education (DOE) opted to diverge from Title VII’s definition of sexual harassment and instead use the Supreme Court’s Title IX-specific definition to require that sexual harassment be both severe and pervasive (instead of “or” pervasive), as well as objectively offensive.
  • Study Abroad: The DOE excludes any behavior on study-abroad programs from Title IX jurisdiction, even when the allegations involved students from the same university.

Continue Reading Yes, It’s True: Department of Education Issues Title IX Regulations During a Pandemic

Fall is here and in full swing! Many of us thought that as we sipped hot apple cider and watched the leaves on the trees change color, we would also be mulling over the new regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education. Betsy DeVos’ timetable is clearly not ours. While we wait for the regulations to be issued, let us look at our current Title IX investigations and what we can do to improve them. Here they are—the top ten pitfalls of Title IX investigations and how to avoid them:

Continue Reading Top Ten Pitfalls of Title IX Investigations and How to Avoid Them