Title IX is an important law set out to end discrimination in schools. However, violations occur nearly every day, and there are certain steps that a school or institution must take to resolve a potential Title IX violation. Often, that happens during an investigation. Investigating a Title IX violation is necessary to determine whether a violation occurred. 

title IX investigation

What is Title IX?

Title IX prohibits sex discrimination at federally-funded schools, universities, and other institutions. It’s part of a group of educational amendments enacted in 1972 that protects students and employees from discrimination on the basis of sex. That can include sexual harassment, sexual violence, or any activity that limits a person’s ability to participate in school or an educational program. 

Before the Investigation

Every Title IX investigation begins with the report. Anyone who believes to be a victim of a Title IX violation should start by contacting the Title IX coordinator or another employee with the authority to begin the investigation process. All institutions should fully train all employees regarding Title IX and how to handle violations and complaints. After the initial report, the institution’s Title IX coordinator will schedule a meeting with the complainant. The coordinator will present all options, including filing a formal or informal complaint. There’s also an option to come to an alternative resolution that avoids a complaint altogether. It’s essential that the officer offers a safe and supportive environment with resources available for the victim of harassment. From there, it’s up to the complainant to decide to proceed with a formal investigation into the incident. 

Title IX Investigation Steps

Each school or institution has its own steps to follow when performing an investigation into a Title iX complaint. They may have different rules and procedures for handling specific steps, and many may consider hiring legal counsel before starting an investigation. 


An interview is required to go over the facts of the case. First, the complainant will meet with a Title IX officer who has been trained in handling complaints. The officer will ask questions about the incident, how the parties know each other, and other details about the violation. 

Evidence and Witness Interviews

After interviewing both parties, the next step is to gather evidence and contact witnesses. A witness can be anyone who was there at the time of the incident or who saw/talked to either party directly after the incident. 


A private hearing is then scheduled to ask further questions of both parties. Hearings aren’t always necessary; for example, if the complainant chose an alternative resolution, no formal hearing is required. 


The committee in charge of the investigation will review the findings of the hearing along with other evidence before coming to a decision. 

Response and Outcome

The entire process for investigating a Title IX violation can take weeks or months to complete. Once the committee comes to a decision on whether or not TItle IX was violated, they will present their findings to the complainant and the accused. What happens next depends on the case and other circumstances. Because Title IX violations are a legal matter, consequences can include protective orders, expulsion, or jail time if the accused is found guilty of violating Title IX. 

Contact a Title IX Attorney

Does your school have legal questions about handling Title IX investigations? Atolles Law, S.C. has experience serving as legal counsel for educational institutions across Wisconsin. We can help your school ensure Title IX compliance and assist with putting together an investigation process. Contact Atolles Law today to consult with a member of our law team.