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Complying with the Clery Act — Important Tips and Updates

September 24, 2013


The Annual Security Report required by the Clery Act is due October 1, 2013.  Crime statistics for 2012 are to be submitted along with statistics for 2010 and 2011.  Clery Act compliance is an ongoing, daily effort on the campuses of higher education.  The Annual Security Report should be carefully and accurately prepared and submitted.  The Department of Education (DOE) has engaged in recent efforts that evidence its interest in the content of this report and that this Clery Act requirement has “teeth.”

In this year alone, the DOE has taken the following actions based on the institution’s security report:

  • In May of this year, Yale was fined $165,000 for prior years of inadequate reporting of campus crime statistics. The crime statistics in question were from 2001 and 2002. The DOE was particularly concerned about the omission of 4 incidents of forcible sex offenses. While Yale had corrected its issues regarding reporting in 2004, the DOE was concerned that it did not do so until the DOE alerted the University of its reporting obligations.
  • In May of this year, the DOE advised the University of Texas at Arlington that it would be fined $82,500 for failing to comply with Clery Act requirements in 2008. Part of the noncompliance allegation includes underreporting of crime statistics. The alleged errors in the annual report include misclassifying a forcible sex offense, misclassifying a physical altercation and underreporting liquor, drug and weapons laws violations. The University has requested a hearing with the DOE.
  • In July of this year, the DOE opened an investigation into Dartmouth College, University of Southern California and Swarthmore College for possible Title IX violations and failure to report statistics in their annual Clery Act report.
  • On May 29, 2013, the DOE issued a letter to all colleges and universities regarding changes to the Clery Act made by the passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA). VAWA established new reportable crime categories which include domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. These take effect in March of 2014. While neither proposed nor final regulations have yet been issued, the changes to the law will affect annual Clery Act reports starting October 2014. The DOE letter states that “[T]he Department expects that institutions will exercise their best efforts to include statistics for the new crime categories for calendar year 2013 in the Annual Security Report due in October of 2014.”

Given the DOE’s current focus on the accuracy and completion of the Report, we recommend the following:

  • In preparing and filing your annual Clery Act security report, be certain that you have properly collected all required crime statistics and categorized them correctly and have a basis for the categorization.
  • For purposes of reporting, be certain that you are clear and consistent in what is an on-campus and what is an off-campus site.
  • Be certain that your Campus Security Authorities (“CSAs”) know who they are on a campus wide basis. Each CSA should be notified annually that he or she is a CSA and informed of the accompanying responsibilities.
  • Be certain that the Annual Security Report is available not only to current employees and students, but to prospective employees and students.
  • Obtain information from local law enforcement authorities on an annual basis.
  • Be certain that all required policy statements are in your annual security report. The policies should be regularly reviewed and updated to comply with current Clery Act statutory and regulatory requirements. The policies should be readily accessible and user-friendly. Campus personnel must be aware of the policies and their role in implementing such policies.