Sexual Assault and Education
Please note: The information on these pages provides general information only. It is not specific legal advice addressing your specific situation. For personal legal advice, contact AVOICE at 1-888-343-4414.
Federal law considers sexual assault on campus a form of sex discrimination, and requires all schools to respond firmly and promptly to all forms of sexual violence. In April 2011, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a letter explaining exactly what kinds of assistance your school should provide. Effective on March 14, 2014, the Violence Against Women Act enshrines much of the DOE’s letter into federal law. AVOICE attorneys can help you determine what rights and options you have.
Understanding Your School’s Policies:
You may find your campus’s internal disciplinary process complicated or intimidating, or you may be unsure about whether to begin that process at all. An AVOICE attorney can walk you through that difficult process and help you navigate the system. Even though some schools do not allow students to be represented by lawyers during disciplinary hearings, AVOICE attorneys can help you write a statement, prepare for a hearing, and prepare to question witnesses. AVOICE can also help ensure your privacy is protected to the fullest extent possible.
If the person who assaulted you is a fellow student, or someone else who knows where you go to school, you may be concerned for your safety. There are several legal remedies that may be good options for you. For example, AVOICE attorneys may be able to assist you with obtaining a protective order (no police report required), changing your housing, changing your class schedule, increased security at your campus job, or taking time off school without harming your student record.
Sometimes, a university will want to address sexual violence internally, through its own procedures only. If you want to bring a criminal case against your attacker, you have the right to report to local law enforcement, and have the assault treated as a serious criminal offense. AVOICE can help you review your options, and help you navigate these two different systems.
Middle and High School:
Most of the federal laws that apply to universities also apply to middle and high schools. A minor victim of sexual assault is eligible to apply for a protective order against the perpetrator, even if it is a classmate at the same school. In addition, Texas schools are required to offer their own stay-away orders to prohibit violence and harassment by their students. Minors who have been sexually assaulted at middle or high school may also have the right to request safety transfers to different schools.
When you are ready, contact AVOICE at 1-888-343-4414, Monday-Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.