Tips for Title IX Investigators

One of the most significant changes in the 2020 Title IX regulations is the replacement of the “single in­vestigator” with four key roles in the Title IX grievance process: the Title IX Coordinator, the Investigator, the Decision-Maker, and the Appeals Officer. Most ques­tions we receive are about serving as the Investigator.

Investigator Selection

The roles of Investigator, Decision-Maker, and Appeals Officer must be held by different people in any given Title IX investigation. The Investigator is not re­quired to be a school employee. Instead, the Investiga­tor may be an em­ployee of another local district or intermediate school district, an attorney, a private in­vestigator, or another properly trained outside party. School officials should confirm that any person serving in a key role is appropriately trained as required by the new regulations.

The Title IX Coordinator may serve as the Investigator. If a school as­signs the Title IX Coordinator to investigate a specific formal complaint, it must en­sure that the Title IX Coordinator does not have a con­flict of interest. Not only may a conflict of interest deprive a party of due process and undermine the legit­imacy of an investigation, it also can serve as the basis for an appeal of the final decision under the new regu­lations. For example, if a Title IX Coordinator signed the written formal complaint that forms the basis for the investigation, the Title IX Coordinator may have a con­flict of interest and should not be assigned to investigate the complaint.

The Investigator should be selected on a case-by-case basis after receipt of a formal complaint to ensure that the Investigator will not have a conflict of interest or bias related to the particular complaint.

Conducting the Investigation

The Investigator should typically interview the Complainant (the alleged victim) first, then use the in­formation from that interview to determine who else should be interviewed. Most often, the Respondent (the individual alleged to have engaged in prohibited con­duct) is the last person interviewed during an investi­gation. Keep in mind, however, that an investigation is an evolving process and persons subject to interview may change as more information is gathered.

Investigators should secure all documentary evidence, such as police reports, surveillance footage, and any other potentially relevant documentation. De­pending on the allegations, a site visit may be necessary.

Remember, all information that is gathered during the course of the investigation – regardless of its rele­vance – must be shared with both the Complainant and the Respondent at least 10 days before the Investiga­tion Report is finalized. And, the Investigator does not make a determination of responsibility. That means the Investigator must gather sufficient evidence so that another person can make a final determination.

Drafting the Investigation Report

The Investigation Report is the only form of communication between the Decision-Maker and the Investigator. The Investigator should create a thor­ough, concise document that contains all information required by the regulations. (Pro Tip: the materials with Thrun’s Comprehensive Title IX Training list the regulations’ requirements for the Investigation Re­port.) Most often, however, including only the required information does not suffice for the Decision-Maker to make a determination of responsibility.

Investigators should err on the side of providing as much information and detail as possible, including the reasons why the Investigator established certain facts. Investigators should avoid providing a report with only “he said, she said” information, and the report should not be simply a transcript of each interview.

Instead, before the Investigator drafts the report, the Investigator should review the allegations and make single-sentence factual findings based on the board policy’s standard of evidence. For example: A preponderance of the evidence establishes that the Complainant entered the restroom at 9:02 a.m. The facts should build on each other, creating an easy-to-follow narrative allowing the Decision-Maker to deter­mine whether the policy was violated. The Investigator should still make credibility determinations and clearly articulate why he or she reached certain factual determinations.


Serving as an Investigator requires thoroughness and attention to detail. Thrun’s Title IX Practice Group has assisted multiple schools with the Title IX Investi­gation process, including serving as the Investigator, counseling Investigators as they navigate the process, and reviewing Investigation Reports to ensure that they contain sufficient information upon which the Decision-Maker can base the determination of respon­sibility. If you would like assistance with this process, please contact a Thrun Title IX attorney.

Thrun Law Firm is also hosting a Title IX Comprehensive Training on October 27, 2021.