TNG HEARING ADVISORS: COMPLIANCE & COMPETENCE

Contract with TNG to serve as advisors to your students/employees in all resolution-related meetings, interviews, hearings, and appeals related to allegations of sexual misconduct 

THE PROBLEM: Millions of college and PreK-12 students – and faculty and staff – are exposed to the risk of sexual violence and harassment, or to accusations of engaging in this type of misconduct. 80% of students have experienced sexual harassment by the time they graduate from college, with some studies showing upwards of 20-25% being exposed to sexual violence. Some fraction of this population will report their experiences to school administrators, seeking the protection of the institution’s policies and the relevant laws, and some fraction of this population will face allegations of serious misconduct.

Who will help your students navigate through complex institutional/district resolution processes? TNG will. Congress has enacted VAWA Section 304 to ensure that college students can access advisors during sexual misconduct resolution processes, but not every student can afford a high-quality advisor. Now, TNG seeks to level the playing field with an advisory service that contracts with schools and colleges to afford advisors to students on demand.

RIGHTS-AT-STAKE: Students and employees all have rights under state and federal law, including certain due process rights at public institutions. Under existing law, students have limited rights to outside advisors in internal school disciplinary proceedings. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is poised to implement new Title IX regulations in the fall of 2019. These regulations propose to extend the right to an advisor more broadly, enabling attorney involvement in conducting cross-examination on behalf of parties in live hearings at public and private colleges. Where an advisor is not chosen by a student, the draft regulations require colleges (and perhaps PreK-12 schools) to provide such an advisor to each side of a sexual misconduct allegation. The onus that this requirement creates is significant, with ample new responsibility placed on institutions along with a significant source of potential liability. One option is to outsource. TNG has offered this service directly to parties and their families for years, but now we are offering it to colleges and schools as an annual, flat-fee program.

LOOMING DISASTER: With these impending federal regulatory changes, disaster potentially looms. Colleges are going to need to hire new employees to fill these advisory roles or find volunteers. Training will be paramount, and costly. Volunteers won’t want this responsibility for long, as colleges experience an uptick in lawsuits for ineffective assistance from volunteer advisors. College-appointed advisors are blamed by parties for mishandling cases, poor cross-examination technique, and conflicted advice. Do these advisors work for the institution or the party? Consider as well the socio-economic disparity that may result when one party is advised by a college-appointed advisor but the other party retains an experienced litigator. Asymmetrical advising is a problem best addressed – and bypassed – before it affects the outcome of a case.

THE SOLUTION: TNG HEARING ADVISORS.

EQUITY OF ADVISING: With this service, every reporting party (complainant) can access an expert advisor irrespective of race, culture, socio-economic status, or other demographic privileges or impediments. Every responding party (respondent) can access an expert advisor irrespective of race, culture, socio-economic status, or other demographic privileges or impediments. TNG Hearing Advisors operates based on the premise that Congress is right. Everyone – every party – deserves top quality advising.

WHO: TNG has a roster of 30 trained, experienced consultants who know these processes inside and out, and are available to serve your students and employees as independent advisors. Free of conflicts-of-interest that any internal advisor could have, many TNG Hearing Advisors were directors of college disciplinary processes before they became TNG Hearing Advisors. TNG Hearing Advisors can serve on either side of a disciplinary proceeding, or both. We use effective internal firewalls and conflict waivers to prevent our advisors from interacting with each other when they are involved on different sides of the same matter.

THE TNG ADVANTAGE: Colleges and school districts want to provide fairness in internal disciplinary proceedings, but now they are being asked to take on the role of providing advisors and managing complex cross-examination during live hearings. The TNG Hearing Advisors service allows colleges and districts to professionalize this function with external experts. These experts level the playing field, remove the advantage of anyone retaining a big-gun attorney, provide economic parity, and eliminate the potential conflicts-of-interest that arise from internal advisors. Plus, TNG assumes the risk of lawsuit for its advisory role.

THE COST: The TNG Advisors service is available for an annual flat-fee. We contract with each institution/district for an expected number of advisory roles on an annual basis, based on your preceding three-year caseload, and we guarantee an advisor to your students and/or employees within 48 hours of notifying us of the need. Alternatively, we can work with institutions to pass our cost along to students in the form of student fees, or we can work with institutions to contract with students/families directly, without the institution taking a formal role in the provision of advisory services.

In most cases, our advisors are paid for by the institution, but the student or employee is the client. Our advisors attend any necessary meetings, accompany the parties through the investigation interviews, help them prepare for hearings, and conduct cross-examination on their behalf (if needed), all while respecting the institutional policies governing the role of advisors. TNG has priced this service to be cost-effective, with affordable rates and professional experts to meet your needs and help you to assure fairness within your processes. Is this service inexpensive? No. But we are confident that it is less expensive than the lawsuits filed if institutions attempt to handle these complicated changes internally.

For additional information, contact hearingadvisors@tngconsulting.com.

MANAGING INSTITUTIONAL RISK: Consider the exposure institutions will have going forward as all parties “lawyer up” in this process, and then the lawyers selected as advisors sue the college or school after its determination. TNG won’t do that. We are advisors for the internal process, and nothing more. TNG will not litigate against its clients. Based on that fact alone, there is considerable value in using TNG Hearing Advisors; we won’t sue you, and our services make it much less likely a party will want or need to sue you after completion of the resolution process.

TNG helps to ensure the process is completed fairly and pursuant to internal policies and we help the parties make every possible argument in their matter. This thorough, skilled approach makes it less likely parties will sue based on a procedural error or an inability to fully and fairly respond to the evidence during the resolution process (common current grounds for lawsuits).

Our advisory services also mitigate the risk of an OCR complaint or investigation, with an average savings to schools and colleges of $90,000-$300,000 per OCR investigation, according to various sources who measure these costs.

Many of our consultants are attorneys, and some are not, but they are all highly qualified experts who know Title IX and sexual misconduct inside and out. They respect your processes, because most of them used to work for institutions and ran these processes as administrators. They also know better how to assist parties than most other internal or external advisors because they have dedicated their careers to these topics. They have a steadfast commitment to advising their client in every aspect of the resolution process, including:

  • Assistance with intake and navigation of institutional remedies, initial actions, supports, and accommodating measures;
  • Connecting the parties with local and campus resources, including case managers, victim advocates, crisis centers, victim-witness coordinators, and services agencies;
  • Liaison with local police, as necessary;
  • Liaison with family, as necessary;
  • Advising on process, expectations, and possible outcomes;
  • Prepare for investigative interviews, including organizing statements, evidence, etc.
  • Accompaniment and advising during investigative interviews;
  • Support and preparation for hearing;
  • Accompaniment during hearings, including conducting respectful and appropriate cross-examination on behalf of the parties, if needed;
  • Support and preparation for requesting appeal, and participation in any appeal proceeding;
  • Post-appeal remedial advising and/or sanctions-compliance advising, if needed.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE TNG HEARING ADVISORS PROGRAM:

  • TNG agrees to provide a qualified, experienced process advisor to any student or employee within 48 hours of receiving a request, up to the contracted-for quota of advisors annually. Extensions of quotas can be arranged as needed.
  • TNG advisors are agnostic, meaning they are able to equally and fairly work with and advise any party, whether a responding party or a reporting party. But, they are by no means indifferent to the interests of every client they advise.
  • TNG advisors are bound by a code of ethics that informs their respectful advising of parties with integrity.
  • TNG process advisors are either attorneys or former college administrators. These individuals function as advisors in this role, not as attorneys, and do not maintain bar admission in every state.
  • TNG will make every effort to accommodate parties who prefer an attorney advisor but does not guarantee the provision of an advisor who is an attorney. Regardless of the advisor provided, communications will not be privileged in any matter.
  • Most advising is provided off-site, via remote technology (phone, Zoom, Skype, Facetime), but two on-site visits are included in each advisory matter (investigation interview and hearing). No additional travel time or travel expenses are charged.
  • TNG Hearing Advisors will familiarize themselves with institutional/district policies and procedures.
  • TNG Hearing Advisors maintain confidential communication with student and employee clients and will not disclose any information to institutions/districts from an advisee unless release is consented to in writing.
  • TNG Hearing Advisors are subcontractors to the institution/district, not employees, and are not “responsible employees” under Title IX.
  • Institutions/Districts agree to share all materials shared with an advisee directly with the advisor, as well, with written consent of the advisee (this is built into TNG’s agreement with each Advisee).
  • Each advisee receives a guide on how to use their Advisor and signs the terms and conditions that come with the Advisory. The institution/district pays for the service, but each advisee is the “Client” of the Advisor.
  • The client and the institution/district waive any conflicts that may arise from having two advisors from the same firm serve as advisors to opposing parties in the same case.
  • TNG warrants that it erects a complete firewall between its advisors any time they are advising on opposite sides of the same matter, and the advisors do not communicate with each other unless their clients consent to them doing so.

More details are available upon request. For more information, contact hearingadvisors@tngconsulting.com.

Peace of mind is important. So is the goodwill of your community.

Contracting with TNG Hearing Advisors today can give you both.