U.S. Department Of Education Increases Fines For Violating Jeanne Clery Act Campus Safety Law To $54,789

06/13/2017 03:30 pm ET Updated Jun 15, 2017
U.S. Department of Education Headquarters, Washington, DC.
S. Daniel Carter
U.S. Department of Education Headquarters, Washington, DC.

The U.S. Department of Education increased fines for violations of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act to $54,789 on April 20, 2017, which is more than double the original amount of $25,000. While the Clery Act is perhaps best known for requiring institutions of higher education to report crime statistics, it also contains requirements addressing sexual violence and emergency management among other things. The law, originally enacted in 1990 as an amendment to Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, is named in memory of student Jeanne Clery, who was raped and murdered at Lehigh University on April 5, 1986.

The Inflation Adjustment Act, also enacted in 1990, requires periodic adjustments of federal civil monetary penalties (CMPs), or fines. As noted by ED in the Federal Register notice about the increase, the Act “provides for the regular evaluation of CMPs to ensure that they continue to maintain their deterrent value.” Clery Act fines were originally $25,000 and were previously adjusted for inflation to $27,500; $35,000; and $53,907. The current $54,789 fine applies to any violation occurring after Nov. 2, 2015 and assessed after April 20, 2017.

The largest Clery Act fine imposed to date was $2,397,000 in 2016 against Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) after extensive violations were uncovered in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Penn State announced on November 25, 2016 that they would not contest the fine. The second largest imposed fine was $350,000 against Eastern Michigan University in 2008.

In addition to requiring colleges and universities to disclose campus crime statistics, the Clery Act also requires policies to address sexual violence, including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking, and to handle emergency situations such as active shooters. The sexual violence provisions were first added in a 1992 amendment and expanded by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act in 2013, and the emergency management requirements were added in 2008 after mass shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University.

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