Title IX & First Amendment

Recent years have seen an explosion of proceedings on American college and university campuses concerning allegations of Title IX violations, the denial of due process rights in disciplinary proceedings, and violations of First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly and academic freedom. Leader Berkon Colao & Silverstein attorneys have had extensive experience representing students, faculty, and trustees in navigating the university rules that govern campus investigations and administrative hearings as well as handling the related litigation.

Whether our client is an undergraduate or graduate student, or a tenured faculty member, our attorneys understand that an adverse result in a disciplinary proceeding can derail one’s education or career plans. LBCS attorneys are able to guide our clients through the often lengthy investigatory process, negotiate with school officials to safeguard their rights, and represent them at the disciplinary hearing. In the event of an adverse finding, we are prepared to pursue litigation on behalf of our clients through trial and appeal in state and federal courts as well as in arbitration.

Some of our recent successes include:

  • Representation of an undergraduate in federal court litigation leading to a settlement in which the Los Angeles Community College District agreed to change its rules and regulations pertaining to freedom of expression that expanded the free speech rights of 200,000 students on its nine campuses.
  • Representation of an undergraduate at the University of California at Santa Barbara wrongly accused of sexual assault. In addition to an order setting aside the university’s administrative findings, we obtained one of the most important reported decisions by the California Court of Appeal clarifying the due process rights of accused students. (Doe v. Regents of the University of California, 28 Cal.App.5th 44 (2018))
  • Representation of a tenured professor at a local community college accused of using insensitive and politically incorrect speech in his classroom lectures. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California agreed with our argument and ruled as a matter of law that our client’s speech was protected under the First Amendment. (Hodge v. Antelope Valley Community College District, 2014 WL 12776507 (February 14, 2014, C.D. Cal.))
  •  Representation of a tenured professor and department chair at a major private university accused of gender discrimination toward other faculty members. Our client was fully cleared of all charges upon completion of a yearlong investigation by the university’s Office of Equity and Diversity.

    Arthur I. Willner

    Partner

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