• Clery Act Enforcement on the Rise: October 1, 2016 Deadline for Colleges and Universities to Complete and Distribute Annual Security Report Fast Approaching
  • October 7, 2016
  • Law Firm: Duane Morris LLP - Philadelphia Office
  • The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, or Clery Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1092(f) (34 C.F.R. 668.46), requires all schools, colleges and universities that participate in federal student financial aid programs to: (1) maintain and disclose to the public statistics, policies and programs about certain crimes occurring on and/or near a campus and (2) have in place and be able to demonstrate implementation of specific campus safety policies, including those related to crimes of sexual violence. The Annual Security Report (ASR) must be completed and properly distributed by October 1, 2016. Department of Education guidance notes that this is a firm deadline; there is no grace period and no exemptions exist.

    The Clery Act is enforced by the Department of Education through student financial aid program reviews, both general reviews and targeted Clery Act compliance reviews. The Department is authorized to take fine, limitation, suspension or termination action-including heightened cash monitoring or provisional status-for Clery Act violations and generally utilizes fines, up to $35,000 per violation, to sanction Clery Act violations.

    Clery Act compliance is likely to continue being a top priority for the Department of Education, and compliance with it is one component of the Department’s Student Financial Aid Enforcement Unit that is designed to increase the number of reviews and enforcement actions against colleges and universities.

    Schools are required to complete and distribute the ASR by October 1, 2016.

    ASR requirements include:
    • Policy Statements: Institutions are required to include the procedures, practices and programs utilized to keep students and employees safe and the facilities secured. Institutions should review the content of the ASR to ensure that required policy statements are in conformance with the law and that staff members understand how those policies are implemented.
    • Clery Act Crime Statistics: The ASR includes Clery Act statistics for the prior three calendar years. For the 2016 ASR report, this includes calendar years 2013, 2014 and 2015 crime statistics and the sexual violence and other campus safety policies required by the Clery Act. All statistics, other than hate crimes and unfounded crimes, should be presented in a tabular form.
    • Institutions with on-campus student housing facilities must include an additional policy statement that addresses missing student notification. In addition, institutions with on-campus student housing facilities must publish an annual fire safety report, which may be included in the Clery Act ASR, provided that the title of the document clearly states the inclusion of both reports.
    • Properly publish and distribute the report as required. Institutions must disseminate the ASR to all currently enrolled students and all employees by October 1. There are specific requirements related to how that report is distributed, as well as how schools must evidence distribution. They also are required to provide the report to any prospective student or prospective employee upon request. Institutions should maintain evidence that such distribution occurred.
    • Retain records associated with the report. All supporting records must be maintained for three years from the latest publication to which they apply. For example, the 2012 statistic and supporting records must be kept until October 1, 2018, as they are contained in the 2015 ASR published on October 1, 2016.
    • Submit crime statistics to the Department. While institutions are not required to submit their ASR directly to the Department of Education, they must submit the crime statistics from the report to the Department via the annual Campus Safety and Security Survey.
    There are numerous additional requirements in the law, as well as recently updated guidance in the Department of Education’s Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting, 2016 Edition.