WYOMING EDUCATION LAW
For parents with children in school in Wyoming, there are a whole host of legal matters that can occur through the educational system.
The problem is that few law firms have much experience or expertise in this area and the laws change rapidly.
Finding an education lawyer who can advise you on your legal options can be a challenge.
Whether your child has been discriminated against, abused, or otherwise received unfair or potentially criminal treatment within the education system in Wyoming, you need independent advice on the next steps to take.
The education lawyers at Wyoming Legal Group are experienced in advising and representing parents with complaints to make within the education system in Cheyenne and beyond.
What do education lawyers do?
While the public school system is administered by the Department of Education, each state has the responsibility to maintain and operate public schools according to the laws.
In particular, there is a strong concern with equality in education and federal laws ensure that every child gets an adequate education regardless of location.
As far back as the 1970s, the Equal Education Opportunities Act provided that no state denies equal educational opportunity to an individual based on race, color, sex, or national origin.
More recently, Title IX legislation from the Education Amendments (again made in the 1970s) has become more prominent. This civil rights legislation affects every federally funded school in the country. The vast majority of schools, colleges and universities fall under this umbrella and must abide by the equality laws stated therein.
Education lawyers can help parents protect their children’s rights under the relevant federal and state legislation governing education. In addition to the laws already mentioned, legal issues may arise for parents who have disabled children or who homeschool, for instance.
What is Title IX and who is affected by it?
Title IX has had a huge impact on the education system in Wyoming, as it has in many states.
Virtually every public school, college and university in the state must adhere to the laws that prohibit bias and discrimination based on one’s sex. This includes public and private elementary schools, middle and high schools, school districts, and colleges/universities.
Title IX has compelled these educational establishments in Wyoming to introduce a mechanism that addresses issues about sexual harassment and misconduct.
The laws are broadly called “anti-discrimination” but in actual fact protect children within the educational system from a broad range of undesirable behavior: everything from being discriminated against based on gender to rape and other serious sex crimes.
The laws apply to incidents both in-school during academic programs and activities and during certain school-related activities off-campus, such as when travelling on school transport or attending sports or other activities.
A list of violations under Title IX includes the following (this is regularly added to):
- Sexual assault
- Sexual misconduct
- Relationship violence
- Sexual coercion
- Sexually motivated verbal and non-verbal conduct – bullying by the perpetrator or friends of the perpetrator
- Discrimination against pregnant or parenting students
The laws recognize that victims and perpetrators come in many forms within the educational system. It’s not just a student-teacher or student-student problem. They apply to anyone on school property including students, faculty, administrators, employees, or any other person doing business with or for the school.
Schools must take measures to prevent discrimination and abuse and also have a written procedure for people with complaints to follow.
Sometimes, even with these measures in place, schools are slow to respond and people’s basic rights under the laws are not protected. That is when you may need the assistance of an education lawyer.
What are your rights under Title IX?
Anyone who alleges misconduct under Title IX has the right to:
- Present his or her case
- Expect a full and impartial investigation of the complaint
- Present witnesses and evidence of the abuse or harassment
- Receive a realistic estimate of the time for the charges to be investigated
Furthermore, a complainant has the right for their complaint to be decided by a “preponderance of the evidence” or “clear and convincing evidence” by an impartial decision-maker. The burden of proof in these cases is lower than “beyond a reasonable doubt” which is often difficult to establish.
Finally, the complainant should be notified in writing of the outcome of the investigation.
Depending on the nature of the complaint and the role of the perpetrator in the school, if it is shown to be a valid complaint, possible sanctions include the following:
- An order to stay away from the complainant
- Transfer to a different class
- A prohibition from attending classes for a specified period
- Probation for a designated time
- Suspension from school for a designated time
- Expulsion from the school
Criminal proceedings may also follow if a criminal act has been committed.
Need legal advice for Title IX or another school matter?
Parents are often unsure whether to complain to the school authorities or seek legal assistance when their children experience serious discrimination or abuse problems within the education system in Wyoming.
If you have a complaint, the education lawyers at Wyoming Legal Group can steer you in the right direction, starting with a free case evaluation.