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Title IX

Are Title IX Investigations Confidential in Ohio?

By August 17, 2022April 8th, 2024No Comments

Title IX is a serious federal law that bans gender- and sex-based discrimination in educational settings. The law has a broad scope for public educational settings both in and out of the classroom, and it applies to public school students and employees of all ages.

The law is often applied to sexual misconduct cases in public universities or schools. As you can imagine, confidentiality can be of utmost importance to those involved.

However, there may be times when confidentiality must be breached. Our Akron, OH team of Title IX defense lawyers at Hiltner Trial Lawyers has experience with these cases. Here’s an overview from our attorneys about the law regarding Title IX confidentiality.

When Is Confidentiality Required in Ohio Title IX Investigations?

As most likely expect, confidentiality is crucial in Title IX investigations, especially the confidentiality of victims and of those accused.

As stated by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which guides universities and schools in Title IX enforcement, the release of any involved parties’ identities is prohibited except in the case of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) exemptions.

In some cases, those involved may consent to disclosures about their identities. However, the Office of Civil Rights requirements imply that nonconsensual disclosures are banned except in the case of FERPA exemptions.

Whose confidentiality is protected under Title IX?

A victim’s confidentiality is protected under Title IX and during Title IX investigations. However, the law also protects the confidentiality of those accused, as well as the confidentiality of witnesses.

The confidentiality of all parties is typically protected for both respect and safety. Protecting confidentiality helps to prevent retaliation, whether professionally or socially, against any of the parties.

In order to further protect these parties, retaliation is explicitly prohibited against parties in Title IX investigations.

What is FERPA?

The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a law that protects the confidentiality of students accused of sexual misconduct within Ohio and throughout the U.S.

Under FERPA, information about sexual misconduct investigations can only be shared with different individuals or departments within the university or school setting based on “legitimate educational need.” However, the victim’s identity will still remain confidential.

The “legitimate educational need” to share information may include investigation or discipline. In many educational settings, staff charged with handling initial complaints will start by contacting the complainant regarding concerns.

If the complainant moves to file a formal complaint, that is when they may need to share information about the case with others who can provide information. However, at all times, the confidentiality of those in the case is still required.

When it comes to sharing information outside of educational settings, either party’s explicit permission is typically required. A subpoena may also require the educational institution to share information with external parties.

Title IX Case Exceptions with Medical Confidentiality

All medical providers must safeguard their patients’ confidentiality, whether in Title IX-related cases or otherwise. Therefore, victims’ confidential information is also protected in medical settings.

However, medical professionals may at times also need to break patient confidentiality.

Medical professionals are mandated reporters. Therefore, if a patient presents a danger to themself or others, then medical professionals may be required to break confidentiality to ensure safety.

For example, a medical professional may need to share a patient’s medical information with other providers who can care for the patient in a different, but crucial field.

Contact Hiltner Trial Lawyers Today

Hiltner Trial Lawyers is an Akron, Ohio defense team with years of experience in trials of all types, including those related to Title IX. Max Hiltner will fight tirelessly on your behalf and for the protection of your rights.

If you need a defense attorney to address a breach in Title IX confidentiality, then contact us today to start your journey on the road to justice.

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