Update: Bush Approves HEA Reauthorization, New Grant Program

WASHINGTON – The Higher Education Act (HEA) was signed into law by by President Bush Aug. 14.

The bill provides for a matching grant program for colleges and universities to fund safety and security initiatives. Several changes to the Clery Act are also included, as are changes to missing student protocols. Additionally, institutions of higher education will now be required to report fires.

Not included in the legislation, however, was the hotly contested 30-minute notification rule, nor the creation of the National Center for Campus Public Safety.

The International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) issued the following statement regarding the passage of this bill:

The House and the Senate on July 29 approved a compromise bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. The bill’s core is the multi-billion dollar student loan and grant programs, which would have expired on Aug. 1 if no action had been taken.

Also included in the bill are provisions that are of interest to IACLEA and campus public safety professionals. A copy of these sections is available at http://www.iaclea.org/members/Legislative/LegislativePriorities.cfm.

House and Senate conferees agreed on these major issues, after internal debate and extensive consultation with IACLEA representatives and board members.

New Grant Program
The legislation authorizes 50 percent matching grants to institutions of higher education on a competitive basis to enable colleges, universities, and consortia to fund the following activities:

  • Develop and implement state-of-the-art communication systems for emergencies
  • Develop procedures for students, faculty, and staff to follow in the event of an emergency
  • Develop procedures for institutions to notify their community about emergency or dangerous situations
  • Other measures, including security assessments, security training, coordination with local authorities, establishment of an emergency hotline, and acquisition and installation of access control, surveillance, and intrusion detection and perimeter security systems, and,
  • Provision of mental health services for students and staff, coordinated with appropriate local entities

Changes to the Clery Act

In order to capture more data on hate crimes, Congress has added four new categories of crime to be reported under that section of the Clery Act: larceny-theft, simple assault, vandalism, and intimidation. Further, under the Clery Act, institutions must report campus policies on immediate emergency response and evacuation procedures and procedures to immediately notify the campus communitiy upon confirmation of a significant emergency. These procedures must be tested annually, but emergency testing involving all campus personnel is not included in this requirement. In other words, this test does not have to be a “fire drill.” This section replaces the 30-minute notification proposal in earlier versions of the bill. That section would have required colleges and universities to issue a warning to the campus community within 30 minutes of a campus emergency, a provision IACLEA had strongly opposed.

Additional Reporting for Fires on Campus
Provisions were added to the bill to require campuses to keep logs of fire events causing personal or property damage. These provisions do not require reporting of all alarms, nor minimal events. Reports are to be submitted by the institution to the U.S. Secretary of Education.

Missing Student Protocols
This section requires colleges and universities to develop protocols for students missing more than 24 hours, including voluntary student contact information in cases were the student is missing.

National Center for Campus Public Safety
The House provision was not accepted in the conference. However, the creation of the National Center is still at the core of the Senate-Committee passed legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont. The legislation is pending a full Senate vote. A companion bill was introduced in the House.

Related articles:

Helpful resources: The Campus Safety Mass Notification Center

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