After receiving a report of conduct that could implicate the Policy, the Title IX Coordinator or his or her designee will take a number of initial steps. These initial steps are not an investigation. Rather, these initial steps will enable NEC to assess the need to take any immediate action to address the safety of the Complainant and/or NEC community, and to determine the next steps for investigating the reported conduct and the need for any interim measures.
These initial steps may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The Title IX Coordinator or his or her designee will notify both the Complainant and the Respondent of the available resources for seeking medical treatment, counseling, spiritual guidance, or other interim measures. These resources can be found at https://necmusic.edu/title-ix/resources.
- The Title IX Coordinator will notify the Complainant about:
- the availability of the Policy;
- the right to report (or decline to report) the matter to Public Safety and/or to local law enforcement if the conduct is potentially criminal in nature; and
- that a report to law enforcement will not change NEC’s obligation to potentially investigate the matter but it may briefly delay the timing of the investigation if a law enforcement agency requests that NEC delay its process for a reasonable amount of time to allow it to gather evidence of criminal conduct.
- The Title IX Coordinator will assess the reported conduct to determine whether the circumstances pose a threat to the health or safety of NEC community that warrants issuance of a timely warning, a stay-away order for any persons, or any other interim protections. The Title IX Coordinator will consult with senior administrators re: same.
- The Title IX Coordinator will contact the Complainant and encourage the Complainant to meet to discuss the nature and circumstances of the reported conduct, review relevant documentation that is available, and address the Complainant’s immediate physical safety needs, including the need for any interim measures. Examples of interim measures may include no-contact orders, requests for academic adjustments or other accommodations, access to additional support services, changes to living, transportation and working situations, and other actions to address the situations and concerns raised on an interim basis.
- If the Title IX Coordinator determines the reported conduct could implicate the sexual misconduct policy, he or she will contact the Complainant to discuss that determination. If, at this time, the Complainant requests that the process not move forward, NEC will weigh that request and the reasons for it against NEC’s obligation to address any risk of harm to the Complainant or other individuals in the community and the nature of the incident or conduct at issue. Except in limited circumstances in which a Complainant’s request not to proceed to investigation is granted, the Title IX Coordinator will proceed to initiate the investigation.
- If the Title IX Coordinator determines that the reported conduct would not implicate the Policy, he or she will advise the Complainant of such in writing and refer the reported conduct to the appropriate administrator for handling consistent with any other appropriate Conservatory policy. (If new information is subsequently provided, the decision whether or not to investigate under the Policy may be reevaluated.)
- Notice of an Investigation
If, during the initial assessment, it is determined that the reported conduct could trigger the Policy and an investigation is required, the Title IX Coordinator will prepare a written notice to the Complainant and Respondent that will include a brief description of the allegations, the portion(s) of the Policy that are alleged to have been violated, and any interim measures in place about which either Party must be made aware. This written notice does not constitute a finding or a determination of responsibility.
- The Role of Advisors in the Process
In connection with an allegation of sexual misconduct involving sexual violence, other inappropriate sexual contact, relationship violence or stalking, each Party, including any Reporting Party, may have a single advisor of such Party’s choice present during the disciplinary proceeding, including any related meeting, interview, or hearing, held pursuant to the Policy. Advisors may not participate actively while present at any disciplinary proceeding and may not speak or otherwise communicate on the part of the Party that the advisor is advising. However, the advisor may ask to suspend any meetings, interviews, or hearings briefly to provide private consultation related to the disciplinary proceeding in progress. An advisor is subject to the same confidentiality expectations applicable to others in attendance. Accommodations, including scheduling of interviews or reviews, generally will not be made for any advisers if they unduly delay the process. The advisor is not permitted to attend a meeting or proceeding without the Party (as a proxy or otherwise) without the prior approval of the Title IX Coordinator, as determined in his/her sole discretion. The Conservatory reserves the right to take appropriate action regarding any advisor who disrupts the process, or who does not abide by the restrictions on their participation as determined in the sole discretion of the Title IX Coordinator.
- Designation of Investigator
The Title IX Coordinator will designate at least one investigator to conduct a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation of the reported conduct and prepare a report of investigative findings (the “Investigative Report”). At NEC’s discretion, more than one investigator may be assigned. NEC may also exercise discretion in assigning an external investigator to conduct the investigation with NEC’s internal investigator. (In addition, NEC may assign an external investigator, without assigning an internal investigator.) All investigators – internal or external – will be selected from a group of qualified and trained individuals employed by NEC or engaged by NEC for the purpose of conducting investigations under the Policy. The Title IX Coordinator will provide the Parties with the name of the person(s) assigned to investigate the reported conduct (the “Investigator(s)”). As soon as possible, but no later than three (3) calendar days after receiving notice of the identity of the Investigator(s), the Parties should inform the Title IX Coordinator (in writing) of any conflicts or potential conflicts of interest with regard to the selected Investigator(s). The Title IX Coordinator will consider the nature of the conflict and determine if different individuals should be assigned as Investigator(s). The Title IX Coordinator’s decision regarding any conflicts is final.
- Nature of the Investigation
The investigation will include separate interviews with the Complainant, the Respondent, and any witnesses whom the Investigator(s) believe will provide necessary and relevant information. The investigation may include the review of documentation or other items relevant to the reported conduct. The Investigator(s) will provide the Parties with written (letter or email) notice of meetings at which their presence is required.
- The Parties’ Identification of Potential Witness and Documentation
The Parties have the opportunity (and are expected) to provide the Investigator(s) with the identification of potential witnesses who have specific information about the reported conduct and with whom they would like the Investigator(s) to speak. The Parties also have the opportunity (and are expected) to provide the Investigator(s) any documentation or other items they would like to be considered. All information described in this section must be presented to the Investigator(s) in writing and include a brief description as to how the persons, documents, and/or items are relevant to the reported conduct. This information must be provided to the Investigator(s) during the investigation phase and without delay upon becoming aware of it. The Investigator(s) will exercise discretion in their determination of what information to consider and which potential witnesses identified by the Parties can provide relevant information to the investigation.
- Investigation Prohibitions
Neither Party will be permitted to question or cross-examine the other Party during the investigation or disciplinary proceedings. Moreover, the Investigator(s) generally will not consider information related to either Party’s sexual history outside of the conduct in question.
- Content of the Investigative Report
At the conclusion of the investigation phase, the Investigator(s) will prepare an Investigative Report, which should include a summary of the factual information presented during the investigation phase, including inconsistencies (if any) between different sources of information. The Investigative Report will not include a determination by the Investigator(s) as to whether a Party has violated the Sexual Misconduct Policy, or what sanctions may be appropriate.
- Review by the Parties
The Parties will have an opportunity to review the Investigative Report and may submit written comments about the content of the Investigative Report to the Investigator(s) within five (5) calendar days of the date they are notified that the Investigative Report is available for review. This review will take place at a secure location and in a secure manner determined by NEC. The time to submit written comments can be extended for a brief period if the Title IX Coordinator concludes, in his/her sole discretion, that the additional time is warranted, and upon written request of the Party seeking the extension that explains the reason the additional time is necessary. Likewise, the secure location and manner of reviewing the Investigative Report can be modified if the Title IX Coordinator deems it necessary and appropriate. The Parties may have the advisors review the Investigative Report with them. Photographs or any other copies of the Investigative Report are not allowed by either Party or the advisors. The comments submitted by the Parties may not exceed ten (10) double spaced pages. After reviewing the submissions, if any, from the Parties, the Investigator(s) may determine that either additional investigation is required or no further investigation is needed. If further investigation is conducted, the Investigator(s) will include any additional relevant information in the Investigative Report. The Investigative Report will then be submitted to the Title IX Coordinator. Any submissions made by either Party pursuant to this section, as well as any other documentation deemed relevant by the Investigator(s), will be attached to the Investigative Report.
- The respondent and the complainant will receive written notification of the Title IX Coordinator’s findings and sanctions. Sanctions may range from exoneration to expulsion or termination of employment.
- The Title IX Coordinator will review the report submitted by the designated investigator(s) and make a determination, based on a preponderance of the evidence, as to whether there was a violation(s) of the sexual misconduct policy.
- Upon receiving notice of the final outcome, either party may file an appeal. Within five (5) business days of receiving written notice of NEC’s determination on responsibility and sanctions, either the Complainant or the Respondent may appeal the decision by submitting to the Title IX Coordinator a letter stating why the party requesting the appeal believes the determination of responsibility and/or the sanctions were inappropriate.
- A party may appeal only on the following grounds: (i) newly discovered material information that was not known to the appellant party during the investigation and which likely would have changed the finding of responsibility or the sanction imposed had it been available; or (ii) substantial procedural error that materially prejudiced the appellant party. The party submitting the appeal must set forth in detail the grounds for review and must attach all materials that the party wishes to have considered in the appeal process. The Title IX Coordinator will provide a copy of the appeal submitted by one party to the other party and provide them five (5) business days to provide a written response.
- Following the receipt of the appealing party’s review and expiration of the time period for the other party to respond, the Title IX Coordinator will appoint an Appellate Officer who will decide the merits of any appeal and in so doing, may consult with the investigator(s), the Title IX Coordinator, and any other individual that the Appellate Officer deems appropriate. The purpose of the appeal is not to rehear the case; rather, it is to determine if there is sufficient information presented to allow a reconsideration of the original decision.
- Any action assessed or recommended by NEC may be enforced, in whole or in part, pending the outcome of the appeal at the sole discretion of the Title IX Coordinator, including a removal or suspension.