What Can You Do When a Complainant Doesn’t Want a Formal Title IX Complaint? The Answer May Not Be What You Expect

By Jackie Gharapour Wernz

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.

Virtual Training Solutions: T&H Title IX Sexual Harassment Training for K-12 Schools

Join Thompson & Horton’s experienced Title IX attorneys for a series of training sessions that will bring your K-12 Title IX sexual harassment team members, including coordinators, investigators, decision-makers, appellate decision-makers, and informal resolution facilitators, into compliance with the current Title IX sexual harassment regulations. These sessions are geared toward the K-12 Title IX professional who wants to brush up on the basics and then put that knowledge to the test with fast-paced, real-world exercises. Thompson & Horton’s Title IX sexual harassment training sessions provide the most up-to-date understanding of Title IX compliance in an engaging format.

Reserve your spot for our Spring 2023 training sessions here.

Thompson & Horton is pleased to offer the following sessions virtually via Zoom:

K-12 Title IX Coordinator Foundations & Practicum
November 1, 2022, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central
February 6, 2023, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central

K-12 Title IX Investigator Foundations & Practicum
October 11, 2022, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central
February 27, 2023, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central

K-12 Title IX Decision-Maker Foundations & Practicum
November 15, 2022 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central
March 27, 2023, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central

K-12 Title IX Appeals Foundations & Practicum
December 6, 2022, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Central
April 17, 2022, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Central

K-12 Title IX Informal Resolution Foundations & Practicum
December 6, 2022, 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central
April 17, 2023, 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central

(All times are in Central Time.)

Keep reading for session descriptions and to register.

Virtual Training Solutions: T&H Title IX Sexual Harassment Training for Colleges and Universities

Join Thompson & Horton’s experienced Title IX attorneys for a series of training sessions that will bring your college or university’s Title IX sexual harassment team members, including coordinators, investigators, decision-makers, appellate decision-makers, and informal resolution facilitators, into compliance with the current Title IX sexual harassment regulations. These sessions are geared toward the college or university Title IX professional who wants to brush up on the basics and then put that knowledge to the test with fast-paced, real-world exercises. Thompson & Horton’s Title IX sexual harassment training sessions provide the most up-to-date understanding of Title IX compliance in an engaging format.

Reserve your spot for our Spring 2023 training sessions here

Thompson & Horton is pleased to offer the following sessions virtually via Zoom:

Higher Ed Title IX Investigator Foundations & Practicum
October 13, 2022, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central
March 1, 2023, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central

Higher Ed Title IX Coordinator Foundations & Practicum
November 3, 2022 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central
February 8, 2023, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central

Higher Ed Title IX Decision-Maker Foundations & Practicum
November 17, 2022 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central
March 29, 2023, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central

Higher Ed Title IX Appeals Foundations & Practicum
December 8, 2022 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Central
April 19, 2022, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Central

Higher Ed Title IX Informal Resolution Foundations & Practicum
December 8, 2022 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central
April 19, 2023, 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central

Higher Ed Title IX Advisor Training
May 10, 2023, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central

(All times are in Central Time.)

Keep reading for session descriptions and to register.

It’s Summer! But Wait… What About Those Title IX Cases?

Summertime usually brings a well-earned break for educational administrators. But for Title IX coordinators and other Title IX team members, summer break can bring a whole new headache. Now that parties and witnesses have left campus for the summer, what do you do with that pile of Title IX cases on your desk? Perhaps some parties have even graduated or are not returning to your educational institution again. And what about that report that rolled in during the last week of school? Here are a few tips for preventing Title IX from ruining your summer.

Instas, Snaps, Yik Yaks, and Sex: When Is a Post Title IX Sexual Harassment?

The issue comes up all too frequently—a student shows up to an administrator’s office to report that they found something terrible about them online. Sometimes it’s sexually harassing language and bullying. Or it’s a person sharing photos or videos of their ex online after a breakup. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, perhaps it’s an account on which people can anonymously “expose” accused perpetrators of sexual harassment, including sexual violence and assault—and the alleged perpetrators report that it’s just not true. How do educational leaders distinguish between sexual harassment and more benign activity on Instagram, Snapchat, (the newly reemerging) Yik Yak, and the like?