Appendix F-AVTEC Title IX Procedure

Sexual Discrimination/Harassment Process Overview

This process involves a preliminary inquiry to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe the nondiscrimination policy has been violated. If so, AVTEC will promptly implement an effective remedy designed to end the discrimination, prevent its recurrence and address its effects.

AVTEC aims to bring all allegations to a resolution within a sixty (60) business day time period, which can be extended as necessary for appropriate cause by the Title IX Coordinator with notice to the parties.  In overview, the timeline for resolution begins with notice to a mandated reporter. The Coordinator then engages in a preliminary inquiry that is typically 1-3 days in duration. From there, the allegation can lead to a formal investigation, which usually starts within days of the preliminary inquiry’s conclusion. Investigations range from days to weeks, depending on the nature and complexity of allegations, with the aim for a 10-14 day window to completion. The parties are apprised of the status of the investigation as it unfolds. The process may then end or continue. If it continues, barring necessary extensions, the investigation leads to formal and informal resolution options, with the aim to complete in 10-14 days from the end of the investigation. A failed informal resolution which triggers a formal resolution may require AVTEC to extend this timeline accordingly. From there, appeals may be requested, with a three-day window to file appeal requests once a formal determination is reached, a three-day window to grant or deny the appeal request, and another 7-10 days for a final resolution to be reached. In rare cases where a remanded decision results in a new hearing, the results of that hearing can be appealed once, which would typically add another 10-14 days to final results.

AVTEC’s resolution will not typically be altered or precluded on the grounds that civil or criminal charges involving the same incident have been filed or that charges have been dismissed or reduced. However, AVTEC may undertake a short delay (several days to weeks) in its investigation or resolution process, to comply with a law enforcement request for cooperation (e.g.: to allow for criminal evidence collection) when criminal charges on the basis of the same behaviors that invoke this process are being investigated. AVTEC will resume its investigation and processes once notified by law enforcement that the initial evidence collection process is complete.

Interim Remedies/Actions

Upon receiving a report of sexual harassment, the Title IX Coordinator will initiate an investigation that determines whether the nondiscrimination policy has been violated. The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) may provide interim remedies intended to address the short-term effects of harassment, discrimination and/or retaliation. These supportive measures may include referral to counseling and health services, implementing contact limitations between the parties, altering housing situations, transportations resources, reasonable academic accommodations, and other appropriate support services and resources. AVTEC will keep interim remedies as private as possible. These supportive measures are offered to all complainants, regardless of whether the complainant chooses to file a formal complaint.

AVTEC may interim suspend a student or employee pending the completion of the investigation and resolution, particularly in when the safety or well-being of any member(s) of the AVTEC community may be jeopardized by the presence on-campus of the respondent.

Formal and Informal Resolution Procedure for Reports of Misconduct

This procedure applies to any member of the AVTEC community (faculty, students, and staff) who engages in discrimination or harassment. Any person can report alleged harassment or discrimination, including faculty, students, staff, guests, visitors, etc. All allegations of misconduct not involving harassment or discrimination will be addressed through the procedures in the respective student and employee handbooks.

The Title IX Coordinator will inform the complainant of the availability of the formal complaint and the formal complaint process. If the complainant files a formal complaint, AVTEC will investigate the allegations and, if appropriate, begin the grievance process.

Informal Resolution

Before pursuing the Formal Resolution Process, every reasonable effort should be made to constructively resolve conflict with students, faculty, staff, or administrators. Whenever possible and safe, the problematic behavior, conflict or misconduct should first be discussed by the impacted person and the person engaged in the problematic behavior, conflict or misconduct. AVTEC does not require an impacted party to contact the person involved or that person's supervisor if doing so is impracticable, or if the impacted party believes that the conduct cannot be effectively addressed through informal means. If informal efforts are unsuccessful, the formal resolution process may be initiated.

Formal Resolution

Initiating a Report of Misconduct by Students

AVTEC Counselors are designated to investigate reports of discrimination and/or harassment by students, to address inquiries and to coordinate AVTEC’s compliance efforts regarding reports of misconduct by students, regardless of AVTEC’s role of the complainant, who may be another student, faculty, staff, guest, or visitor.

Notice of a formal report can be made in person, by phone, via email or in writing to an AVTEC Counselor or the Title IX Coordinator. Upon receipt of a report, the Counselor will confer with the Title IX Coordinator on interim action, accommodations for the complainant, or other necessary remedial short-term actions.

Investigation

If the complainant wishes to pursue a formal resolution or if AVTEC, based on the alleged policy violation, wishes to pursue a formal resolution, written notice of the formal complaint will be sent to both parties and they will be notified of the grievance procedure. The Title IX Investigator will complete an investigation. Investigations are normally completed within 10-14 business days but may take longer depending on their nature or complexity. The complainant and respondent may decline to participate, and AVTEC may continue the process without their participation. The complainant and respondent are entitled to select an advisor of their choice to be present throughout the process. Both parties will be given notice of any interviews, meetings, or hearings conducted that they are permitted to attend. Other than to the parties, AVTEC will reveal information about its investigation and hearing only to those needing to know in order to carry out their duties.

The investigator will take the following steps (not necessarily in order):

  • Determine the identity and contact information of the complainant;
  • Identify the exact policies allegedly violated;
  • Conduct an immediate initial inquiry to determine if there is reasonable cause to charge the respondent, and what policy violations should be alleged as part of the charge;
    • If there is insufficient evidence to support reasonable cause, the report should be closed with no further action;
  • Meet with the complainant to finalize their statement;
  • Prepare the notice of charges on the basis of the initial inquiry;
  • Begin a thorough and impartial investigation by developing a strategic investigation plan, including a witness list, evidence list, intended timeframe, and order of interviews for all witnesses and the respondent.
  • Make a finding, based on a preponderance of the evidence (whether a policy violation is more likely than not)
  • Share the findings and sanctions with the complainant and the respondent.

 

At any point during the investigation, if it is determined there is no reasonable cause to believe AVTEC’s policy has been violated, the Title IX Investigator has authority to terminate the investigation and end resolution proceedings.

Where the respondent is found not responsible for the alleged violation(s), the investigation will be closed. Where a violation is found, AVTEC will act to end the discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects on the complainant and the AVTEC community. All parties will receive written notification of the outcome, to the extent permitted by or mandated by law. Where the respondent accepts the finding of the investigation, AVTEC will impose appropriate sanctions for the violation.

In the event that the respondent rejects the findings in part or entirely, AVTEC will convene a hearing under its respective procedures to determine whether the responding party is in violation of the contested aspects of the report. The hearing will determine whether it is more likely than not that the respondent violated the policies forming the basis of the charge.

Hearing

If the complaint is not dismissed, AVTEC will select a hearing date between 5 and 15 business days after the investigative report is produced. A party may request the entire live hearing occur with the parties in separate rooms with technology enabling them to see and hear each other. At the hearing, both parties will have equal opportunity to present their own relevant evidence and witnesses. A party’s advisor may ask the other party and any witness relevant questions. Parties may not conduct such questioning themselves. An AVTEC appointed decision-maker will determine whether the allegations have been proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

Advisor

All parties are entitled to an advisor to guide and accompany them throughout the process. The advisor may be a friend, mentor, family member, attorney or any other supporter a party chooses to advise them. People to be called as witnesses may not serve as advisors. If a party does not have an advisor, AVTEC will provide, without cost, an advisor of AVTEC’s choice. This advisor need not be an attorney.

The parties are entitled to be accompanied by their advisor in all meetings and interviews at which the party is entitled to be present. Advisors are expected to advise ethically, with integrity and in good faith.  AVTEC cannot guarantee equal advisory rights, meaning that if one party selects an advisor who is an attorney, but the other party does not, or cannot afford an attorney, AVTEC is not obligated to provide one. A party may elect to change advisors during the process.

Where an employee is a member of a union and entitled to a union representative in the process, that employee may be accompanied by the union representative as their advisor or may choose an advisor in addition to their union representative. In such cases, the other party may have two advisors as well.

Decision-Maker

A decision-maker, who is a person other than the Title IX Coordinator or Title IX Investigator, will attend the hearing. The decision-maker will determine whether the allegations have been proven by a preponderance of the evidence. The decision-maker will issue a written determination that includes findings of fact, conclusions about whether the alleged conduct occurred, the reasoning with regard to each allegation, any disciplinary sanctions against the respondent, and any remedies afforded to the complainant. The parties will receive written notification of the outcome of the hearing. This written notification of final decision is delivered to the parties and explains appeals options, and any changes to the results that could occur before the decision is finalized.

Additional Notes

AVTEC students are responsible for knowing the information, policies and procedures outlined in this document.

AVTEC reserves the right to make changes to this document as necessary and once those changes are posted, they are in effect. Students are encouraged to check AVTEC’s website for the most recently updated version of these policies and procedures. If government regulations change in a way that impacts this document, this document will be construed to comply with government regulations in their most recent form. Reports of misconduct made after the fact may raise issues of policy and procedure application, if policies and procedures have changed.  Unless the parties accept current policies, all reports are governed by the policies that were in place at the time the alleged misconduct occurred. Procedures applicable are those that are in place at the time of resolution.

This document does not create legally enforceable protections beyond the protection of the background state and federal laws.