United States: U.S. Department Of Education Issues Revised Handbook For Campus Safety And Security Reporting

Phil Catanzano is a Senior Counsel in Holland & Knight's Boston office

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The U.S. Department of Education has updated The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting, the primary resource for institutions of higher education seeking guidance on their campus safety and security reporting obligations under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.
  • The revised Handbook incorporates the Department's prior guidance on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2013.
  • With the publication of the revised Handbook, institutions of higher education are well advised to revisit their Clery Act compliance efforts and particularly their procedures for publishing the Annual Security Report before Oct. 1, 2016.

For the first time in five years, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) has updated The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting, the primary resource for institutions of higher education seeking "step-by-step and readable" guidance on their campus safety and security reporting obligations under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act). Of critical importance to institutions, the revised Handbook incorporates the Department's prior guidance on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) and the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2013 (VAWA 2013). Instead of trying to review and synthesize various documents for the most up-to-date federal guidance, the updated Handbook serves as a user-friendly compendium for institutions in the process of compiling their Annual Security Reports and understanding their more general Clery Act compliance obligations.

This alert highlights a few key changes to the Handbook, how those changes impact the Annual Security Report, and how these changes, combined with the recent formation of a Student Aid Enforcement Unit, may signal a change in enforcement priorities at the Department.

Annual Security Report Changes

The Clery Act requires higher education institutions to file an Annual Security Report with the Department by Oct. 1 every year. Each institution's Annual Security Report must also be published and distributed to its current students and employees, and the institution must inform prospective students and employees about the availability of the report. The Handbook provides institutions with technical guidance for collecting and publishing the data needed for the report. While there are many changes included in the 2016 Handbook revisions, the following are some highlights:

  • Institutions must collect data on reported incidents of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. While this requirement was conveyed with the passage of VAWA 2013, which went into effect in 2015, the 2016 Handbook provides helpful examples to assist institutions in meeting their obligations. For example, the Handbook provides definitions and scenarios to indicate how the term "dating" may be used in different cultural contexts and cautions that institutions should not rely upon terms like "hooking up" versus a "monogamous relationship" to definitively determine whether certain behavior constitutes "dating violence."
  • Institutions must also describe their policies and procedures for supporting victims of reported Clery Act crimes. The current Handbook goes beyond the prior version with regard to suggested practices of indicating resources for victims, and it also goes further than the Title IX obligation to develop a policy and process for responding to sexual misconduct. For example, VAWA 2013 required institutions to "provide the accuser and the accused with the same opportunities to have others present during any institutional disciplinary proceeding, including the opportunity to be accompanied to any related meeting or proceeding by the advisor of their choice." In 2014, the Department determined that this VAWA 2013 requirement was consistent with Title IX and stated that if "the school permits one party to have lawyers or other advisors at any stage of the proceedings, it must do so equally for both parties." In practice, this created parity of process. In requiring that institutions now go beyond providing resources and describe their policies and procedures for supporting victims in their Annual Security Reports, institutions should be thoughtful to ensure that any policies and procedures designed solely for victims do not interfere with the parity that currently exists – or should exist – in many institutional processes.
  • Institutions must provide additional information on prevention and awareness programs to incoming students and new employees. The new edition of the Handbook requires more detail in the program descriptions, addressing bystander intervention training and risk reduction methods, among other programming.
  • Institutions must describe in greater detail their disciplinary policies applicable to dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. The descriptions must address the type of disciplinary proceeding used by the institution; the steps, anticipated timelines, and decision-making process for each type of disciplinary proceeding; how to file a disciplinary complaint; how the institution determines which type of proceeding to use based on the circumstances of an allegation; and the standard of evidence that will be used during the disciplinary proceeding. Institutions are also required to list the possible sanctions that may be imposed and the range of protective measures that the institution may offer in such cases. Again, while this was raised in VAWA 2013, the Handbook makes clear that Annual Security Reports must pay particular attention to these specific behaviors.

With the publication of the revised Handbook, institutions of higher education are well advised to revisit their broader Clery Act compliance efforts, most immediately the content of their Annual Security Reports that must be published by or before Oct. 1, 2016.

Student Aid Enforcement Unit

Earlier this year, the Department also created the Student Aid Enforcement Unit (SAE Unit), which consolidated several groups within the Department's Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). The Department stated that the newly formed SAE Unit would be able to "respond more quickly and efficiently to allegations of illegal actions by higher education institutions." While the SAE Unit appears to be focused primarily on institutional transgressions involving federal student aid and other high-level misconduct, it also subsumed the FSA's Clery Group, which is responsible for monitoring institutional compliance with the Clery Act. (FSA is the branch of the Department charged with enforcing the Clery Act, not the Office for Civil Rights, as many assume.)

In its press release, the Department discussed the four primary branches of the SAE Unit: the Investigations Group, the Borrower Defense Group, the Administrative Actions and Appeals Service Group, and the Clery Group. The Department indicated that the SAE Unit would partner with other state and federal agencies to "build[] cases against institutions of higher education." The Department also indicated that the Investigations Group, in particular, would be equipped with "a broad set of interventions and tools, including subpoena authority, document demands, and interrogatories and interviews" to enforce federal law. Whether the Investigations Group – and its enhanced investigative powers – will partner with the Clery Group to investigate Clery Act compliance remains to be seen.

Taken together, the updates to the Handbook and the formation of the SAE Unit earlier this year indicate that the Department is positioned to take a more aggressive posture with regard to Clery Act compliance. It is better for institutions to conduct a self-audit and make appropriate changes before the government arrives on campus to demand them. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions