Calif. State Audit: 6 Colleges Inaccurately Reported Clery Crimes

The audit found a rape and stalking incident occurred on a California campus in 2016 but the school reported on its website that no crimes occurred that year.
Published: May 11, 2018

A state audit of California colleges and universities found several to be out of compliance with federal law requiring disclosure of crimes on or around campus.

The state auditor made the announcement Thursday, indicating some schools publicly reported inaccurate crime statistics and did not inform students and parents about programs for combatting violence against women, reports SF Chronicle.

The audit consisted of crime statistics and campus security policies compiled and reported by six California institutions.

One of its main findings was that four institutions did not accurately report their crime statistics, including Azusa Pacific University, Bakersfield College, Humboldt State University and San José State University.

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All of the above universities reported criminal offenses in their 2016 Clery Act crime statistics but did not fully comply with the requirements of the Clery Act and federal regulations, according to the audit.

Errors included 11 Clery Act crimes that the institutions did not report, 25 crimes that they incorrectly reported as Clery Act crimes, and six Clery Act crimes that they categorized incorrectly.

The audit found disclosure errors in 20 percent of the crimes examined collectively at the four schools. Errors were found by examining incident reports of each crime and interviewing staff. Those findings were then compared to how the crime was publicly reported.

Additionally, all but Azusa did not keep written procedures that clearly outline their review processes.

Secondly, the audit found West Los Angeles College and Berkeley City College both reported no crimes under the Clery Act. Furthermore, it found West LA’s reporting was accurate but Berkeley City failed to report two Clery Act crimes that year due to a miscommunication with the police department.

Berkeley City Did Not Publicy Disclose Rape, Stalking Incident

In one case, Berkeley City did not publicly disclose a rape and a stalking incident that occurred in 2016. The school reported on its website that no crimes had occurred that year. Errors such as this, says the report, makes it difficult for students to make informed decisions on where to enroll.

Auditor Elaine Howle says this year’s audit included Berkeley City College and West Los Angeles Community College because their respective cities have lots of crime and each school has an enrollment of more than 5,000 students. However, none reported any crimes to the public.

The audit found the Peralta Community College District, which compiles Clery disclosures for its member colleges, including Berkeley City, has been requesting crime data from the wrong contacts at the Berkeley Police Department since 2014.

The communication error, says the report, means the school failed to comply with the federal requirement of issuing an active warning to students and employees about serious threats to their safety.

“Because it was not aware of the rape incident that it did not report, Berkeley City College was not able to issue a timely warning to its students and employees,” says the report.

Third, the report found all audited institutions except Azusa failed to develop or disclose all required policies under the Clery Act in 2017. For instance, all five “failed to disclose fully one or more policies regarding campus sex offense programs and procedures,” which are required under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.

Lastly, the audit found daily crime logs for five of the six institutions were incomplete or not updated. The auditor’s review of crime logs found that Azusa, San José State and West LA did not include all crime reports to which they responded. Additionally, Bakersfield, Berkeley City and San José State did not update their logs to include crime reports obtained through local police departments.

“All five of these institutions lack detailed procedures for maintaining their daily crime logs, including review processes to ensure the completeness of their crime logs,” says the report.

The audit also includes recommendations for all six schools to be implemented by August 2018. The main recommendations include improved communication and the updating of official Clery guidance and procedures. All but Azusa has agreed to comply.

Azusa president Jon Wallace says while he agreed with the audit’s positive findings of the school, he “respectfully disagrees” that the school conducted any inaccurate reporting.

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