A Family’s Guide to Title IX

Q:  What is Title IX?
A:  Title IX is a federal anti-discrimination law that protects Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) students and staff from sex-based discrimination (including sexual harassment and sexual assault) in PWCS educational programs and activities.
Q:  What is a Complainant and a Respondent?
A:  The Complainant is the person who is the target of reported sexual harassment or sexual assault.  The Respondent is the person accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault.
Q:  Does Title IX apply to all sexual misconduct?
A:  All misconduct of a sexual nature that happens on school property or during a PWCS educational program or activity violates PWCS regulations and will be investigated and responded to appropriately. However, not all sexual misconduct violates Title IX.  Title IX applies only to certain kinds of sexual violence or abuse, or to sexual misconduct that is so severe that makes it difficult for the Complainant to fully access a PWCS educational program or activity.
Q:  What should I do if my child has been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted?
A:  You should immediately report the misconduct to The Title IX Coordinator (contact information follows) or to your child’s principal or assistant principal.  If the reported misconduct happened at school (including in a virtual classroom), on a school bus, during a school-sponsored activity or with the use of a PWCS device or network, then PWCS is responsible for investigating and taking action to remedy the situation.

If the reported misconduct did not happen in a PWCS educational program or activity, then PWCS might not have the authority to investigate and resolve the situation; however, PWCS will still provide supports to your child and can connect you and your child to helpful community-based resources.
Q:  What happens if my child is accused of sexually harassing or sexually assaulting someone at school?
A:  If you child is accused of engaging in sexual misconduct in a PWCS educational program or activity, then PWCS has the responsibility to conduct a full and fair investigation.  You will be notified of the accusation and your child will have the right to tell his or her side of the story.  If the accusation involves the kind of sexual misconduct that might violate Title IX, then the Title IX Coordinator will contact you to explain how the investigation will be conducted, what supports will be provided, and what rights you and your child have during the process, which is known as the “Title IX Grievance Process.”
Q:  What is the Title IX Grievance Process ?
A:  The Title IX Grievance Process is the process used to investigate and resolve any reported sexual misconduct that might violate Title IX.  In the Title IX Grievance Process, the investigation is done by an investigator from the Title IX and Student Equity Office and the final decision about what happened is made by a hearing officer who works in the Office of Student Management and Alternative Programs (OSMAP).  In the Title IX Grievance Process, administrators from your child’s school do not investigate or make decisions about the reported misconduct.

If the reported misconduct could violate the PWCS Code of Behavior but not Title IX, then the investigation will be done, and decisions will be made, by officials at the students’ school.
Q:  What if I disagree with the decision made by the Title IX Decision Maker?
A:  If you disagree with the decision, you will be able to appeal.  Information on how to appeal the decision will be given to you by the Title IX Decision Maker and can also be found in PWCS Regulation 738-1.
Q:  How long does the Title IX Grievance Process take?
A:  Usually, the Title IX Grievance Process is completed in 60 business days or less.  During that time, in most cases, both the Complainant and the Respondent will continue to attend school with supports in place to enable them to do so safely.  If you have concerns about your child’s safety during the Title IX Grievance Process, you should tell the Title IX Coordinator or your child’s principal or assistant principal right away.
Q:  Where can I find more information about Title IX?
A:  You can find more information about Title IX on the Title IX and Student Equity Office webpage, which can be found by going to pwcs.edu, then selecting “Departments.” Under the heading “Student Services and Special Education,” you will find a link to the Title IX and Student Equity Office.  You can also find more information about Title IX in PWCS Regulation 738-1, “Responding to Allegations Against Students of Sexual Misconduct.” 
Q:  Who should I contact if I have questions about Title IX?
A:  You should contact the Title IX and Student Equity Office at 703-791-8595 or at TitleIXEquity@pwcs.edu.

1The Title IX Grievance Process is used to resolve complaints of sexual harassment or sexual assault that reportedly occurred on or after August 14, 2020.  If the reported misconduct occurred before August 14, 2020, then different procedures apply.

*These FAQs are informational. If there is any conflict between the FAQs and PWCS Regulation 738-1, “Resolution of Allegations Against Students of Sexual Misconduct,” the regulation shall control.