What Can You Do When a Complainant Doesn’t Want a Formal Title IX Complaint? The Answer May Not Be What You Expect
I was lucky enough to present with my dear friend Jacqui Litra in a lengthy session on all things Title IX at the inaugural conference of the National School Attorney’s Association last month in Nashville. If you aren’t familiar with it, NSAA provides the only unified, non-political, independent organization for attorneys representing school districts of all shapes, sizes, and political and social leanings. (Disclosure: I’m also lucky enough to be on the NSAA’s Transition Board and was the primary author of the organization’s comment to the proposed Title IX athletics rule, so I’m a pretty big fan).
One of the questions we received from the audience, packed with school lawyers from across the country, was, “What can you do when a Title IX complainant does not want to sign a formal complaint?” What that means is that this is not a stupid question—it is one that many brilliant people are struggling with across the country, even three years after the 2020 rules went into effect. So what is the answer? Is it “Nothing”? Or can you use another, non-Title IX process to address the behavior? As we explained at NSAA, neither of those options is correct. There are many things you can do. But you cannot use a complainant’s reluctance about the Title IX process to “back door” the case into a non-Title IX process. Here’s why.