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The Law & Education

Mar 17, 2022

Navigating the Title IX process as a school or institution can be incredibly challenging, especially when there is a simultaneous, or parallel criminal process taking place. Here to help us unpack this challenging topic is Betsy Smith, a Senior Investigator and Consultant at Institutional Compliance Solutions (ICS) and K12 Team Lead. Betsy’s experience as a former prosecutor puts her in a unique position to give clarity on these subjects. In addition to her expertise in managing trauma and being trauma-informed, she also has extensive knowledge of the processes involved. In our conversation, we discuss some of the key points that need to be considered when engaging in the Title IX process. We cover the school’s obligations when they have knowledge of an incident, some of the support that Title IX coordinators need from other teams, and why it’s essential that the criminal and Title IX cases remain entirely separate and shouldn’t be determinant of one another when running in parallel. Betsy describes some of the oversights that can lead to the dismissal of a criminal case and why that does not prove the conduct did not take place. We also spend some time talking about how complainants tend to behave in these cases, why they might withdraw their involvement, and how to ensure their safety in these types of proceedings. Our conversation today covers a lot, from the cycles within an abusive relationship, to how institutions can form productive relationships with law enforcement and better navigate these processes. For more insights into this expansive topic, be sure to tune in today.


Key Points From This Episode:

  • Introducing today’s guest, Betsy Smith, Senior Investigator, and Consultant at Institutional Compliance Solutions (ICS) and K12 Team Lead.
  • The many questions we’ve been receiving about when a school is obligated to conduct a Title IX process while there is a simultaneous, or parallel criminal process happening.
  • Betsy’s experience as a prosecutor and why she is uniquely equipped to talk about parallel criminal processes.
  • The value of being trauma-informed and the knowledge Betsy gained prosecuting child sex crimes.
  • The distinction between criminal and civil cases.
  • What it means for two processes to be running parallel.
  • The responsibility of law enforcement and institutions in parallel cases.
  • An overview of how the criminal process works.
  • What it means to have probable cause and the role of the prosecutor.
  • Why parallel civil and criminal processes need to be separate and not be determinant of one another.
  • Some of the things that can lead to the dismissal of a criminal case and why that does not prove the violation did not take place.
  • How to avoid retraumatizing the complainant through multiple interviews by law enforcement and other figures.
  • How an institution can establish a relationship with law enforcement when they have an obligation to pursue a Title IX process during a criminal investigation.
  • Why the SRO position often feels like a dual role.
  • Advice on who you can call to find out whether a violation has mandatory reporting status.
  • The distinction between finding someone responsible versus guilty.
  • Insights into the requirements for the terms ‘clear and convincing’, ‘preponderance of evidence’, and ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.
  • A breakdown of the violations that Title IX covers.
  • Some of the new regulations around dating violence, domestic violence, and sexual assault.
  • How Title IX obligations affect an investigation.
  • Why recognizing a violation as a Title IX case from the start is so important.
  • Betsy’s key pieces of advice for anyone dealing with domestic or dating violence cases.
  • Why the Title IX coordinator needs support from other teams.
  • The cycles of abuse and why a complainant may decide to withdraw from an investigation.
  • Why your decisions as a Title IX coordinator need to prioritize keeping the complainant safe.
  • Some tactical tips for when you have a parallel criminal process to your Title IX process at your school or campus.


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Betsy Smith on LinkedIn

ICS Lawyer

Higher Ed Community Access

K-12 Community Access

Higher Ed Virtual Certified IX Training

K-12 Virtual Certified Title IX Training

ICS Blog

Courtney Bullard on Twitter