Education Department Begins Investigation of Penn State Security

The U.S. Department of Education will begin reviewing the Pennsylvania State University’s campus security program today to see whether officials broke federal laws by failing to report child sexual abuse.

The agency will interview officials working for campus policing, judicial affairs, residential life, student affairs, athletics, fraternities and sororities to determine if the school complied with the Clery Act, which requires schools to report abuse, Penn State said in a statement on Nov. 26.

The review was prompted by allegations of abuse against former Penn State defensive football coach Jerry Sandusky. The Department of Education notified Penn State in a Nov. 9 letter that it planned to send representatives to the campus beginning this morning.

“We are making every effort to provide the review team with immediate access to all requested records and information sources pertaining to all aspects of Clery Act compliance,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in the statement. “The notification letter included a long list of information the committee needs, and we have been busy gathering as much of that information in advance of their visit as possible.”

Under the Clery Act, universities that receive federal financial aid are required to gather and disclose information about criminal offenses on campus that are reported each year. The 1990 act is named for Jeanne Clery, a Lehigh University freshman who was raped and murdered on campus in 1986. Schools can be fined as much as $27,500 for each infraction of the act, Jane Glickman, a Department of Education spokeswoman, said today in an interview.

Civil Penalties

The Department of Education is responsible for Clery Act compliance and can impose civil penalties against institutions for each infraction of the law. Schools can also lose access to federal student financial aid programs for non-compliance, according to the statement.

Penn State dismissed President Graham B. Spanier and head football coach Joe Paterno following the allegations against Sandusky, who was charged with 40 criminal counts involving the alleged sexual molestation of eight boys from 1994 to 2009.

Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Senior Vice President Gary Schultz were charged with perjury and failure to report allegations involving Sandusky.

Download: Duncan on Penn State, No Child, Tilson on Reform