Hearings & Appeals
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Once the Title IX investigation concludes, a decision must be made concerning disciplinary action. When the complaint involves a student respondent, the investigator's final report will be submitted to the Vice President and Dean of Student Life & Learning who will determine whether to charge the student with a disciplinary infraction. When the complaint involves an employee, the report will be forwarded to the Vice President for Academic Affairs or the Vice President for Finance to determine whether to proceed with disciplinary action. For non-faculty employees, standard disciplinary and termination procedures will be followed. For faculty respondents, disciplinary and termination procedures for faculty will be followed. No complaint will be forwarded for a hearing unless there is reasonable cause to believe policy has been violated. “Reasonable cause” is defined as some credible information to support each element of the offense, even if that information is merely a credible witness or an alleged victim’s statement. A complaint wholly unsupported by any credible information will not be forwarded for a hearing.
Hearing Process for Student Respondents
If the Vice President and Dean of Student Life & Learning refers the matter for a hearing, both the complainant and respondent will receive notice of the hearing and be given the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses, as well as have an advisor of their choice present, though that advisor may not participate in any of the proceedings. The Student Code of Conduct hearing process and hearing procedures contained in the Student Handbook will be followed unless a different process is stated below. The notice will be in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person by the Associate Dean of Students (or a designee); mailed to the local or permanent address of the student as indicated in official university records; or emailed to the student’s university-issued email account. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, such notice will be presumed delivered.
At the hearing, there shall be no authority to compel the attendance of witnesses. The following applies:
a. Both parties will be given similar and timely access to information that will be used at the hearing
b. Any conflicts of interest between a party and the fact-finder or decision-maker at a hearing must be disclosed
c. Both parties will be given the same opportunity to present relevant evidence and witnesses, including character witnesses
d. If the respondent is allowed to review the complainant’s statement, the complainant may also to review the respondent’s statement
e. The parties are prohibited from personally questioning each other at hearings
f. If the institution allows attorneys to attend the disciplinary hearings, the attorneys for both sides must have the same opportunity to speak and participate
g. If attorneys are allowed to attend in an advisory capacity both sides must have the same opportunity to provide advice.
h. TLU will maintain documentation of all disciplinary hearing proceedings, including written findings of facts, transcripts, and any audio recordings
i. The fact of a current or previous consensual dating or sexual relationship between the parties does not itself imply consent or preclude a finding of sexual violence.
j. If a complainant or respondent refuses to participate in a Title IX hearing that the Vice President and Dean of Student Life & Learning has determined should occur, the hearing shall proceed and the matter determined in their absence.
The hearing can be held before an administrative hearing officer or disciplinary panel at the Vice President’s or a designee’s discretion. The respondent and complainant may question their own or opposing witnesses, although the hearing officer of disciplinary panel can require that questions be submitted to and asked by the panel or officer at its/his/her discretion. The complainant and respondent shall not be allowed to question one another during the hearing. Witnesses may be questioned by the hearing panel or administrative hearing officer. The respondent and complainant shall have an equal opportunity to submit questions to the hearing officer or disciplinary panel to be asked of witnesses.
Composition of the Hearing Panel
All hearings will be conducted by a three-member administrative panel drawn from the panel pool and trained about Title IX on an annual basis.
The past sexual history or sexual character of a complainant or respondent will be inadmissible in hearings unless determined to be highly relevant by the panel chair. Such information sought to be admitted by a party or the university will be presumed irrelevant until a showing of relevance is made, at least five (5) days prior to the hearing, to the chair. Demonstration of pattern, repeated, and/or predatory behavior by the responding student, in the form of previous findings in any legal or campus proceeding, or in the form of previous good faith allegations, will generally be relevant to the finding, not just the sanction. The complainant and respondent will be notified in advance if any such information is deemed relevant and will be introduced in the hearing.
The three-member administrative panel will determine whether it is more likely than not that a violation of policy occurred and issue a written decision. The written decision will include, but not be limited to, whether the allegations were substantiated, and if so, disciplinary sanctions and remedial measures. The hearing decision will be provided to both parties, although the content of each letter may be modified subject to the limitations of FERPA and other federal or state privacy laws. In cases of alleged sexual assault, the result of the hearing and any sanction imposed with disclosed to both parties regardless of whether the hearing concludes an assault was committed. The complainant and respondent will both be sent notice of the hearing panel’s findings in writing within the same 48-hour period. The written recommendation will be relayed to the respondent and complainant, with any restrictions or sanctions. If the complaint is against a faculty member or other employee, the hearing decision will be submitted to the appropriate Vice President, who will make a recommendation concerning restrictions or sanctions to the President. The President or the President's designee will make the final determination as to any recommended actions or sanctions.
Any person who serves as a hearing officer, a disciplinary panel member or on a hearing board related to Title IX sexual misconduct must receive annual training on legal requirements and the University’s policies and procedures related to sexual harassment and sexual violence.
A student may appeal a decision of the panel to the Vice President or designee. The appeal must be submitted in writing within three business days of receiving written notification of hearing outcome.
Grounds for Appeal
Appeal requests are limited to the following grounds:
- A procedural error that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing;
- To consider new evidence that was no available during the original hearing or investigation and could substantially impact the original finding or sanction.1
- A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included;2
- The sanctions imposed are disproportionate to the severity of the violation and the student’s overall conduct record.
Appeals must be filed in writing with the Dean of Students Office within three business days of the notice of the outcome of the hearing, and either the respondent or complainant may file an appeal. Appeals filed after the deadline will not be considered.
The Vice President or designee will issue a decision in writing no later than 30 days after the request for an appeal has been submitted. This deadline may be extended. If this deadline is extended, the Vice President or designee will notify the complainant and respondent in writing.
1 Failure to provide information during or participate in an investigation or a hearing, even resulting from concern over pending criminal or civil proceedings, does not make evidence “unavailable” at the time of the hearing.
2 The Associate Dean of Students is expected to consult with the chair of the original panel to inquire as to whether the new evidence would, in the opinion of the chair, have substantially impacted the original finding or sanction.
Texas Lutheran University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Dr. Bernadette Buchanan, Title IX Coordinator, 830-372-8060. TLU's Title IX policies are outlined at www.tlu.edu/titleix.
For further information on notice of non-discrimination, visit http://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/CFAPPS/OCR/contactus.cfm for the address and phone number of the office that serves your area, or call 1-800-421-3481.
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