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Tip of the Week: Best Practices for Intake Meetings in the Title IX Grievance Process

Kayleigh Baker, J.D., Consultant, TNG Consulting, LLC

Under the current Title IX regulatory framework, a Title IX Coordinator must initiate an investigation once a complainant files a formal complaint.1 The Title IX regulations also require the Title IX Coordinator to reach out to the complainant upon receipt of a formal complaint to offer an intake meeting and supportive measures. Often, there is an opportunity to offer an intake meeting with the complainant prior to filing a formal complaint to explain the Title IX grievance process. Intake meetings can help avoid confusion before the Title IX grievance process begins.

By offering an intake meeting aligned with best practices to discuss the complainant’s options, Title IX coordinators can help them understand their rights, reduce confusion, and make an informed decision.2 For example, the intake meeting can ensure that a complainant knows how to request an institution-based investigation and what an investigation is (and isn’t).

Prior to Intake

Many institutions set up online reporting forms where community members can file reports about potential misconduct they or someone else experienced. In response to these reports, Title IX Coordinators must follow up with the impacted individual (the complainant), provide information about the Title IX office, and offer an intake meeting. In that communication, Title IX Coordinators should ensure the complainant is safe and has access to resources such as medical, law enforcement, and advocacy services.

Institutions may choose to have the Title IX Coordinator, a deputy, or an advocate conduct the meeting. Some institutions have even begun designating an “Intake Officer” to provide consistency to this part of the Title IX process. Regardless, any staff member facilitating the intake meeting (referred to throughout as an intake officer) must receive training pursuant to federal regulations.3 Further, the intake officer is not a confidential resource and may later serve as a witness in a hearing.

During Intake

The best intake meetings start by setting the table. Those doing this work long enough have likely perfected their spiel – or the things they routinely cover in each intake meeting or interview. However, while giving their spiel, intake officers should remember that providing all the information at once can be overwhelming. As a result, a complainant may retain very little information. One solution is to encourage complainants to invite a trusted advisor to the intake meeting. The advisor can help the complainant understand the process and set appropriate expectations for the next steps. Additionally, intake officers should always follow up with information about the process and supportive measures in an email the complainant reviews later.4 Colleges and universities must also ensure that the complainant receives a copy of the institution’s VAWA Brochure, which reviews all the same options, resources, and services the intake officer discussed in the intake meeting.

During the intake, the intake officer should attempt to gather enough information to identify the policies and procedures applicable to the reported conduct. But remember, the intake is not an investigatory interview. Therefore, although gathering enough information to identify the correct policy and procedures and determine jurisdiction is important, intake officers are only entitled to hear the complainant’s story if the complainant wants to share it.

The intake officer should take the time to clarify misconceptions about the process during the meeting. A complainant may have many misconceptions about what to expect from a Title IX investigation, including the behaviors prohibited by institutional policy, whether a complainant can remain anonymous, what supportive measures are available, and similar important details. Likewise, a complainant may think that an investigation will be completed in a matter of days. It cannot. The intake meeting is the time to avoid misconceptions, set reasonable expectations, and explain the process.

A complainant may already know they want to request an investigation during intake, or they may need guidance on what to do at the conclusion of the meeting. Therefore, intake officers should be wary of answering the “What would you do?” question if asked. Instead, the intake officer should remind the complainant of their right to an advisor – and offer to help them find one if needed. Intake officers should also explain that their job is to describe a complainant’s options and the resources available as they try to make this decision, not to decide for them. Finally, the intake officer should remind the complainant that they (likely) don’t have to make any decisions immediately and that doing nothing is an option.

Before wrapping up the meeting, the intake officer should ensure they have answered the complainant’s questions and provided information on the availability of supportive measures. If a complainant is not ready to sign a Formal Complaint, intake officers should explain situations requiring a Title IX Coordinator to proceed with an investigation. For example, Title IX Coordinators may discuss the reasons why the Title IX Coordinator may sign a complaint on behalf of the institution and how that would look. Lastly, the intake officer should schedule a time to follow up with the complainant regardless of the next steps.

Although intake meetings typically occur between an intake officer and a complainant, there may be times when intake officers meet with third parties. Intake officers may meet with individuals who are respondents in a case but have requested meeting to discuss a counter-complaint, supportive measures, or a No Contact Order. The best practices described above are also applicable in those instances. 

After Intake

After the meeting, the intake officer will have many things to follow up on, including connecting the complainant with appropriate supportive measures and potentially drafting a Notice of Investigation and Allegations. Following all intake meetings, the intake officer must document the information learned in the Title IX database or another recordkeeping system that houses Title IX records. For example, suppose the intake meeting did not result in a signed formal complaint. Then the intake officer should follow up with the complainant as agreed upon during the meeting, supportively and without pressure.

An intake meeting could set the stage for the entire grievance process. By planning and prioritizing the intake meeting, Title IX practitioners can make this process less confusing and more transparent and accessible. They can build trust with a complainant, demystify the process, and work to reduce any impediments that the complainant may face or perceive. This is an excellent time to discuss the confidentiality of complaints, supportive measures, and institutional protections from retaliation.

To learn more about solutions for Intake, Jurisdiction, and Dismissal, register for the ATIXA workshop, where we teach this topic in depth.

We have checklists for all phases of the Title IX process, including Intake. Current ATIXA individual and institutional members can purchase the TIXKit at a reduced price or upgrade to become an ATIXA Super Member here and receive our checklists at no additional cost.

Or, if you’d like to use automated versions of our checklists as workflows built into your case management system, implement TNG Guardian for your school or campus. For more information, please contact

[1] In K-12 settings, a parent or guardian may file a formal complaint on behalf of a minor student.

[2] Institutions cannot require an intake meeting as a prerequisite for accepting a formal complaint; however, as this article discusses, offering an intake meeting can help to ensure that a complainant understands the Title IX process. If a complainant declines an intake meeting, they may still file a formal complaint.

[3] 34 CFR § 106.45(b)(1)(iii)

[4] Templates of these communications and many more are available in the ATIXA TIXKit.