May Schools Impose “Gag Orders” In Title IX Cases?
When schools are investigating Title IX cases, interim measures are normally imposed to provide assistance to the affected parties and to prevent the issue from escalating further. These interim measures may include schedule adjustments, seating changes, and no-contact orders. But there have been cases where schools have prohibited parties from discussing their ordeal with friends and classmates, and gave sanctions when they did-this is essentially a “gag order.”
Title IX’s new regulations-that schools are expected to comply with by August 2020-state that “schools must not restrict the ability of the parties to discuss the allegations or gather evidence.” This means that schools are not allowed to issue “gag orders” during a Title IX investigation.
What interim measures are schools allowed to impose during a Title investigation?
Under the new Title IX regulations, schools are expected to provide interim measures as part of their mandatory response obligations. Schools must give affected parties the necessary considerations in order to cope with the matter. Schools must also take measures to de-escalate a situation, and to prevent similar incidents from happening. Allowed interim measures under Title IX include, but are not limited to:
- Course extensions
- Adjustments in course schedules
- Changes in housing and seating
- Additional leaves of absence
- Additional security measures and monitoring
- No-contact orders
Gag orders hiding behind no-contact orders
In the past there have been cases where colleges and universities have issued no-contact orders that also prohibit affected parties from discussing details of the case with friends and classmates-who might also be witnesses. According to a report, some students said that they risked facing disciplinary sanctions if they did not comply. Some students said that they felt it was a violation of their right to free speech.
Students’ right to free speech
New regulations under Title IX give affected parties the right to discuss their ordeal with friends, classmates, and teachers. And because these new regulations have the force of law behind them, no school can impose “gag orders” in this context. This important provision in Title IX protects a student’s right to free speech, access to education and due process.
If you are looking for advice on a Title IX issue, call to get a free consultation with the attorneys at Roberts Law Group. We have years of experience defending students (and professors) in Title IX matters across North Carolina.
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