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N-2-11 Formal Investigation, Decision and Appeal

 

The College will utilize the following process should the complainant wish to pursue a formal Title IX investigation and resolution process. The timelines listed below are estimates only and the College reserves the right for additional time should complex situations arise.

Initial Notification and Determination of Process

  1. The complainant files an initial report via the College’s incident reporting system or by talking with any employees listed in section G-28-0.1. To be considered a Title IX complaint, the report must be filed by the complainant or Title IX Coordinator; third-party complaints are not allowed. Additionally, the report must include a description of the allegation, request that the College investigate the incident(s), and be signed (electronic or physical) by the complainant or Title IX Coordinator. If the complaint is not complete, the Title IX Coordinator will work with the complainant to finalize the report if they wish to do so.
  2. The College will make an initial assessment to ensure that the complaint meets Title IX regulatory standards (see section G-28-2). If the complaint does not appear to meet these standards, the Title IX Officer will discuss alternative investigatory options with the complainant.
  3. If the complaint appears to meet Title IX standards, the Title IX Officer will meet with the complainant to explain reporting options, requirements, and processes, including reporting to law enforcement; discuss options for an advisor and the advisor’s role; review the informal and formal investigation process; review confidentiality options; provide information on available support resources; and determine complainant wishes for next steps.
  4. If the complainant wishes, the College will implement interim measures designed to ensure the complainant’s right to access their education, develop safety plans for potential future interactions, and provide academic accommodations reasonable and appropriate to the nature of the alleged incident(s).

Investigation Process

  1. The Title IX Coordinator will provide written notice of the allegations and investigation to the respondent. This notice will include:
    1. A summary of the allegations;

    2. Date(s) and location(s) of incident(s), if known;

    3. Identity of parties, if known;

    4. The alleged policy violation;

    5. Description of the Title IX formal investigatory and appeals process;

    6. Potential sanctions and remedies;

    7. Evidentiary standard, including a statement that the respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged actions until the hearings officer has an opportunity to review the investigatory report;

    8. Statement on COCC’s non-retaliation policy;

    9. Statement on process privacy;

    10. A statement on each party’s requirement to have a College-appointed advisor or advisor-of-choice each stage of the process and how to request a College-appointed advisor if needed;

    11. A statement that COCC prohibits participants from knowingly making false statements during the course of this process;

    12. Details on how to request accommodations for those with disabilities;

    13. The names and contact information for the investigator and hearings officers, along with an opportunity for the respondent to identify potential conflicts of interest between the respondent and investigator and/or hearings officer; and

    14. Directions to preserve any evidence directly related to the investigation.

      The notice of allegations and investigation will be delivered in two or more of the following ways: Delivered in person, mailed to permanent or temporary address, or emailed to the parties’ COCC email. Once delivered, mailed or emailed, the College will presume the letter was received.
  2. The College will appoint an investigator(s) free from conflict of interest for both the complainant and respondent.
  3. Upon receipt of the notice of allegations and investigation, the investigator(s) will typically take the following steps, although not necessarily in the order listed:

    1. Individually interview the complainant(s) and respondent(s), noting that the College will provide a college-appointed advisor should the complainant or respondent not have someone serving this capacity. The investigator will schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed-upon date and time no more than ten days after being appointed as an investigator.

    2. Notify the complainant and respondent of interview dates, including interviews with witnesses;

    3. Interview potential, relevant witnesses, noting that any witness may have a supporting party in attendance (see section N-1-2).

    4. Collect and document relevant evidence.

  4. Upon conclusion of the interviews with complainant, respondent, and witnesses, the investigator(s) will draft a report to include, at a minimum, the following:
    1. Background (e.g., date of report and incident(s), alleged policy violation, names of complainant(s) and respondent(s) and their advisors, interim measures);

    2. Verification that the complaint met Title IX regulatory standards;

    3. Factual summary of investigatory findings

    4. List of all parties interviewed, dates, and times;

    5. Narrative of interviews;

    6. Description of evidence collected;

    7. Institutional standard of evidence statement and how the allegations meet or do not meet this standard; and

    8. Other information which may assist the hearings officer in making their determination.

      The report will not include information not directly related to the alleged violation, unless it is evidence of a pattern of behavior on behalf of the respondent, the character of the complainant or respondent, or the complainant’s past sexual activity unless offered to prove that someone else conducted the alleged violation.

  5. The draft investigatory report will be sent to the Title IX Coordinator.

  6. The Title IX Coordinator will send the report and copies of any evidence to the complainant, respondent, and their advisors.

  7. The complainant or respondent will have ten business days by which to contest any factual information included in the report and must provide evidence to support this request. The investigator, at their discretion, will modify the report if appropriate. If not, the investigator will provide an addendum to the report with the complainant or respondent’s requested modification.

Hearing/Decision Process

  1. The Title IX Coordinator will assign a hearings officer to review the report. The hearings officer will be the Director of Student and Campus Life if the incident(s) only involve students or the Director of Human Resources if the incident(s) involve an employee.

  2. Upon review of the final investigator report, the Hearing Officer shall determine if a hearing is warranted. If no, the complaint will be dismissed and complainant and responding parties notified.

  3. If the hearing is warranted, the complainant and respondent will be notified of the hearing date, time, location/modality. A hearing will be scheduled no sooner than 10 days after the release of the investigative report. If requested by either party, the complainant and respondent can be in different rooms, but connected via appropriate technology supports. The request may be made prior to or during any part of the hearing by either party.

  4. The complainant and respondent are permitted to bring an advisor of choice to the hearing (see N-2-8). If they do not do so, the College will appoint someone to serve in this capacity.

  5. Record of Hearing: All hearings will be recorded either by an audio or video transcript.

  6. The investigator will present a summary of their report at the start of the hearing and be available throughout the hearing to answer any questions or provide clarification of information provided by complainant or respondent during the hearing.

  7. The hearings officer will ask needed questions of both parties.

  8. Each party has an opportunity to cross-examine one another, noting that only the advisor of choice may ask the questions. The hearing officer will determine whether the questions are relevant. Questions about past sexual activity may not be part of any questioning unless the question demonstrates a pattern of behavior directly connected to the allegations. If a party does not respond to cross-examination questions, then the hearings officer may only rely on information in the investigator’s report when making their decision.

  9. The hearing will conclude.

  10. The hearing officer will provide written notification of their decision to the complainant, respondent, and advisors within ten business days of the hearing. This notice will include the finding of responsible or not responsible, rationale for the decision, any sanctions, remedies, options for appealing the decision, and a statement of non-retaliation (see G-28-5).

Appeals Process
The complainant or respondent party may appeal the decision under the following circumstances:

  • Violation of the process detailed in this section;
  • In light of new evidence not reasonably available at time of investigation;
  • Evidence of bias on part of the investigator or hearing officer; or
  • Evidence of conflict of interest of the investigator or hearing officer (see G-28-6 for “Conflict of Interest” definition)

The appeal must be filed within five business days of the hearings to the hearing officer.

Request for appeal involving only students will be reviewed by the Chief Information and Human Resources Officer (CIHRO); in the absence of the CIHRO, the CIHRO will designate an alternate. The request for an appeal will be denied if any one of the above conditions are not met or if it not filed within five business days. If an appeal is warranted, the VPSA will review the decision, investigator report, and evidence. The VPSA will notify all parties of their decision within ten business days unless extenuating circumstances exist. The VPSA’s decision is final.

Request for an appeal involving employees will be reviewed by the Chief Information and Human Resources Officer (CIHRO); in the absence of the CIHRO, the Title IX Coordinator will designate an alternate. The request for an appeal will be denied if any one of the above conditions are not met or if it not filed within five business days. If an appeal is warranted, the CIHRO will review the decision, investigative report, and any evidence. The CIHRO will notify all parties of their decision within ten business days unless extenuating circumstances exist. The CIHRO’s decision is final.