Senate Hearing Reviews Schools’ Clery Compliance

WASHINGTON – Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.) is taking a closer look at how U.S. colleges and universities are complying with the Clery Act.

During a hearing on May 19, Specter said schools were not accurately reporting crime on campus. He also criticized the Department of Education for not enforcing the 1990 Jeanne Clery Act, which he authored.

The National Institute of Justice released a study in 2005 saying that two-thirds of the schools file inaccurate or incomplete reports. The report, however, was merely a more reader-friendly version of a study released in 2002. A different examination done in January did uncover many violations.

Representatives from several universities testified at the hearing. All supported the act but had several concerns about it. The problems cited with it included confusing regulations, convoluted reporting requirements and a disconnect between state and federal requirements.

During the hearing, Specter said he wondered if increased fines, jail time or the withholding of federal funds might improve compliance by schools. He indicated he would discuss these options with other senators.

Specter, however, was even more critical of the Department of Education, which he faulted for not compelling colleges and universities to abide by the Clery Act.

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