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Title IX Practice

Title IX


Will Spade’s Title IX Experience

Will Spade has represented undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members in Title IX sexual misconduct and other disciplinary actions at the following colleges and universities:

Philadelphia University

Temple University

University of Virginia

Ursinus College

Susquehanna University

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania – Wharton School of Business

University of the Arts

Drexel University

Grace College Indiana

The University of Michigan

Arcadia University

Lehigh University

Swarthmore College

Rowan University

Chestnut Hill College

Baruch College

Tulane University

He has also represented students in litigation in federal court actions as well.  In fact, Mr. Spade brought one of the first Title IX federal lawsuits against a university for an erroneous outcome of a sexual assault complaint in Villar v. Philadelphia University, No. 2:14-CV-2558 (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania) and was one of the first lawyers in the nation to survive a motion to dismiss the complaint.[1]

Will Spade has also lectured to other lawyers about Title IX administrative practice in Continuing Legal Education programs with William “Sam” Sneed, including “MeToo#TimesUp, Clumsy or Criminal, on December 12, 2018 at Swarthmore College.

Will Spade has achieved many Title IX victories, including a Not Responsible finding by an external independent adjudicator in a Temple University case in which his client face Sexual Assault charges, a Not Responsible finding by a university review board in a University of the Arts case in which his client faced a Sexual Violence charge, and the withdrawal of charges in a Rowan University case in which his client faced Sexual Assault charges.  Even though the Title IX investigatory and adjudicatory system is extremely unfair and denies basic Due Process rights to respondents, it is still possible to prevail in a Title IX case with a skillful and knowledgeable attorney guiding you through the process.

Title IX Practice

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from discrimination based upon gender/sex in education programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance.  The scope of Title IX is incredibly broad. It applies to approximately 16,500 local school districts, 7,000 post-secondary institutions, as well as charter schools, for-profit schools, libraries, and museums.  Some of the areas covered by Title IX are recruitment, admissions, counseling, financial assistance, athletics, sex-based harassment and/or assault, and disciplinary processes. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is the government agency that enforces Title IX.  OCR vigorously enforces Title IX to ensure that institutions that receive federal financial assistance from ED comply with the law. OCR evaluates, investigates, and resolves complaints alleging sex discrimination. OCR also conducts proactive investigations, called compliance reviews, to examine potential systemic violations based on sources of information other than complaints.

For most of its history, Title IX enforcement actions were directed at equal access to funds for women’s athletic programs.

In 2011, the Department of Education issued what commonly became known as the Dear Colleague Letter.[2]

The result is a two-tier criminal justice system in the United States.  The first criminal justice system is the federal and state courts which is governed by the United States Constitution in which a person accused of sexual assault and other sexual offenses is afforded a complex rubric of Due Process protections (i.e., the right to counsel, the right to confront the witnesses against him, the right to a jury of his peers, the right to a beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof etc.) that seek to ensure a just outcome.   The second system is the shockingly unfair system of investigation and adjudication that exists on college campuses.  In that system, the lawyer representing a person accused of sexual assault cannot speak during the disciplinary hearing, the standard of proof is a preponderance of evidence (which is much lower that beyond a reasonable doubt), the accused does not have the right to question his/her accuser, and the people deciding responsibility/non-responsibility are employed by the very university that has brought the charges.

Social critic Camille Paglia has described the situation as follows: “Colleges should stick to academics and stop their infantilizing supervision of students’ dating lives, an authoritarian intrusion that borders on violation of civil liberties.  Real crimes should be reported to the police, not to haphazard and ill-trained campus grievance committees.”[3]

Given the extremely limited rights and Due Process protections afforded a college student accused of sexual misconduct, it is important to have an attorney with the experience to navigate through the treacherous and often bizarre process of a college Title IX investigation and adjudication.  It is equally important that your attorney also be experienced in criminal defense since local police and prosecutors are often simultaneously investigating the same charges brought by the university.

[1] https://ecf.paed.uscourts.gov/doc1/15311417591

[2] https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201104.pdf

[3] Camille Paglia: “The Modern Campus Cannot Comprehend Evil” Time Magazine, September 29, 2014.