Title IX Investigation Overview
Purpose of the Investigation
The purpose of a Title IX Investigation is to gather information and impartially review the alleged incident by interviewing involved parties and witnesses and reviewing any relevant documentation in order to provide a comprehensive review of the alleged incident. Title IX Investigations are designed to be equitable, fair, and neutral. Further, all parties are presumed not responsible for any violations of Policy until determined otherwise through administrative processes.
Title IX Investigator
To facilitate this process, a Title IX Investigator is assigned to conduct a thorough, prompt, impartial, and fair review of information, details, and persons associated with any compliant. Title IX Investigators complete annual and ongoing training to ensure their expertise in conducting investigations.
At Appalachian State University, Dr. Tim Koch and Liz Mason serve as Title IX Investigators. Please click here to review their bios.
Office of Title IX Compliance’s Procedures for Investigating Reports and Complaints of Prohibited Conduct
The Office of Title IX Compliance (“OTC”) is charged with ensuring compliance under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) and the Policy for matters involving Prohibited Conduct on the basis of gender, gender expression, gender identity, sex, and sexual orientation. The Title IX Coordinator is charged in their official capacity to ensure the effective operationalization of these Procedures by OTC.
Preparing for the Investigation Process
To prepare for the interview, we encourage you to bring along any relevant information and evidence (such as photos, text messages, emails, documents, etc.) you want to share with the Investigator. You will be asked to provide a list of witnesses to be interviewed.
It is beneficial for you to come prepared with the list along with the contact information for each of your witnesses.
Students engaged in a Title IX Investigation have a right to be accompanied by up to two (2) Support Individuals and one (1) Advocate, as explained in the Code of Student Conduct. Please review Support Individuals, Advocates, and Observers for more information.
Faculty engaged in a Title IX Investigation have a right to be accompanied by an Observer as detailed in the Faculty Handbook. Please review Support Individuals, Advocates, and Observers for more information.
Overview of the Investigation Interview
The following important information is relevant to any individual participating in Title IX interview processes.
Scheduling of Interviews. Interviews are scheduled based upon mutual availability and in being mindful for the need for 90-120 minutes of time. Individuals may request to reschedule interviews by being in contact with the Title IX Investigator.
Break time. Breaks are permitted during the interview, upon request.
Personal belongings in the interview room. Certain personal effects, such as bags and backpacks are permitted in the interview room.
Electronic devices. Cell phones and other electronic devices should be silenced to minimize distractions and delays.
Audio recording. The Title IX Investigator will request to audio record the interview for purposes of transcription. This process allows for an accurate record of the conversation to be formally documented. Following interviews, the Investigator will supply any individual who participates in an interview the opportunity to review the transcript for accuracy and completion.
Questioning. In Title IX interviews, individuals as are asked to share your account of the alleged incident in detail. The Investigator may ask follow-up questions if relevant about: force/coercion; intoxication; and consent. It is not uncommon for an Investigator to ask clarification questions as well. Understandably, some of the questions may be difficult to answer. Individuals are encouraged to take breaks if necessary during the interview with the Investigator. Interviewees are also encouraged to ask questions of the Investigator(s) as necessary.
Material evidence, witnesses, and other important effects. Interviews provide the opportunity for individuals to provide relevant information regarding the alleged incident, including material evidence. Material evidence may include photographs, videos, emails, text messages, social media messages or posts, or other items which may help to provide additional detail. Individuals are encouraged to bring materials and/or to the interview that are relevant to the investigation. Original documents are preferred to copies and all materials should be in unaltered form. Further, individuals are encouraged to provide the names and contact information of any individuals who may serve as relevant witnesses. For more information on witnesses, please review Information for Witnesses, Support Individuals, and Advocates.
Procedural questions. At the conclusion of the interview, the Investigator will ask if you have any questions about the investigation process. We encourage you to ask as many questions as necessary as we want to ensure you fully understand this process.
Follow-Up interviews. The Investigator may determine they need to schedule a follow-up interview with you if they have any additional questions or need clarification. On average, Reporting Parties/Complainants and Responding Parties/Respondents are asked to participate in two interviews regarding their experience. The first interview generally seeks to capture information regarding their first-person experience and the second interview may focus on specific questions that may have emerged through the investigative process.
Concluding the Investigative Process
At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator will prepare the Preliminary Investigative Report, which details the relevant content from the interviews conducted and evidence gathered. The Investigative Report may include written statements, audio or video recordings, pictures, social media information, text messages, email exchanges, and other relevant information.
The Reporting Party/Complainant, the individual who alleges to have experienced harms, and the Responding Party/Respondent, the individual responding to allegations of causing harm, are provided the opportunity to review the report prior to its final submission. The Involved Parties are provided equal opportunity to review the Preliminary Investigation Report, submit additional comments and information to the Investigator, identify any additional witnesses or evidence for the Investigator to assess, and to submit any further questions that they believe should be directed by the Investigator to the other party or any witness.
Involved Parties will be provided notice should there be substantive changes to the Preliminary Investigative Report.
At this juncture, the Investigator may continue the investigation or may conclude the investigation. The Investigator will update involved parties as appropriate during the investigative process.
Upon conclusion of all investigative processes, the Title IX Investigator completes the Final Investigative Report.
Matters of Student Conduct
Absent extenuating circumstances, the Final Investigative Report will normally be submitted to the Office of Student Conduct within 60 days of the case being referred to the Title IX Investigator. If additional time is needed, involved parties will be notified of the reason for the delay and a projected timeline for completion of the investigation process.
The Office of Student Conduct will contact the involved parties to set up individual and separate meetings to discuss forms of resolution.
Matters of Employee Conduct
Absent extenuating circumstances, the Final Investigative Report will normally be submitted to the Title IX Coordinator within 60 days of the case being referred to the Title IX Investigator. If additional time is needed, involved parties will be notified of the reason for the delay and a projected timeline for completion of the investigation process.
The Title IX Coordinator will determine, via the preponderance of the evidence standard, if a violation of policy has occurred. Absent extenuating circumstances, Findings by the Title IX Coordinator will normally be rendered within 10 business days. If additional time is needed, Involved Parties will be provided Notice by the Title IX Coordinator.
In the event of a Finding of Responsibility, the Title IX Coordinator will inform the Involved Parties and the supervisor(s) of the Responding Party. Per Policy 110 (4.8.2), determinations regarding sanctions and necessary corrective actions, if any, shall be made by the Responding Party's supervisor(s), in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, and other appropriate University administrators, subject to applicable grievance policies.
Retaliation includes the adverse treatment of an individual as the result of a complaint or concern being filed and/or information being supplied through any University process. All involved parties have the right to be protected from retaliation. If at any time you believe you are being harassed, threatened, or retaliated against, please contact the Title IX Coordinator immediately.
All investigation records are the property of the University and are maintained by the Office of Title IX Compliance.
All education records related to this Title IX reports, complaints, and investigations are privately maintained by the Office of Title IX Compliance and shall not be released without the student’s consent, except as otherwise provided by law.
All investigative records related to Title IX endeavors involving employees are privately maintained by the Office of Title IX Compliance and are not part of a personnel file.
Confidential Assistance and Support
OASIS is Boone's local domestic and sexual violence resource agency. OASIS hosts 24-hour confidential crisis line which puts you in touch with a staff member for immediate assistance: 1.800.268.1488.
University Ombuds Office provides independent and confidential support to faculty, staff, and students to discuss campus related concerns.
Counseling and Psychological Services provides free and confidential mental health counseling and support to Appalachian students. Located on the 1st floor of the Miles Annas Building, the Counseling Center offers emergency and urgent support connecting students with a Counselor On Call: 828.262.3180.
Counseling for Faculty and Staff provides free and confidential mental health counseling and support to Appalachian employees. Located in University Hall, CFS provides short-term services to faculty, staff, and their family members to identify, prevent, and address personal, family, and workplace issues.
Private Assistance and Support
Case Managers in the Office of the Dean of Students can provide general assistance to students engaged in Title IX investigations. Case Managers can discuss campus and community resources, discuss adjustments or needs or interim action, and serve as a referral agent to students who need additional support.