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The Clery Act: Beyond the Basics

We recently partnered with the Clery Center to present "Beyond the Basics: Reading the Regs Part I," a webinar where we:

 

  • Discussed the relationship between the Clery Act and the Higher Education Act
  • Examined the relationship between statute, regulations, and sub-regulatory guidance
  • Navigated the regulations and frequently asked questions about Clery requirements

Key takeaways from the presentation are highlighted in the following blog.

The Clery Act and the Higher Education Act

 

The Higher Education Act was written in 1965 to expand the federal government's role in higher education policy. The original law was composed of eight major sections, referred to as "Titles," and it was intended to be reauthorized every four to six years. The tenth reauthorization of the law was scheduled for 2013 and is now eight years overdue.

 

Authorization/reauthorization and appropriation are the two steps necessary for any government program to be funded and running. A program that is funded by discretionary spending (as opposed to a budget overhaul) may continue to operate if funds are appropriated, even if the authorization has expired. This is where we are currently with the Higher Education Act.

 

One of the eight original Titles of the Higher Education Act is Title IV. It is the largest section and governs all federal financial assistance. Institutions that receive Title IV funding must comply with the Clery Act. In fact, the Clery Act is embedded within Title IV.

 

The Clery Act has been amended several times since its inception in 1990, and one of those amendments came in the form of the Higher Education Opportunity Act. It was developed in response to the tragic mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, which resulted in the requirement for emergency notifications.

Clery Act Timeline

 

  • In 1988, there was a law called the College and University Security Act, which was the first legislation that sought to require institutions to disclose certain information related to campus safety.
  • The law turned into the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990 and it amended the Higher Education Act of 1965.
  • In 1992, the Buckley Amendments led to the development of FERPA, a law that puts parameters around education rights and privacy for college students and their parents/guardians, and the Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights.
  • In 1998, the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act was renamed the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act).
  • The previously mentioned Higher Education Act amendment occured in 2008, which was significant because it was the last time the act was formally reauthorized and it included a lot of amendments to the Clery Act, such as emergency mass notifications.
  • The most recent amendment to the Clery Act came in 2013, which was the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a piece of legislation that addresses violence against women through education, healthcare, and policy. It expanded the Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights to include dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking survivors and extended those rights, in addition to some other pieces connected to hate crimes.

Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting Timeline

 

  • The handbook was a guidance document published by Department of Education in 2005.
  • An update to the handbook was released in 2011 to reflect the amendments to the Clery Act in 2008.
  • In 2016, a new handbook was introduced to reflect the amendments to the Clery Act in 2013.
  • In 2020, the Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting was replaced by the Clery Act Appendix for the Federal Student Aid Handbook.

Statute, Regulations, and Guidance

 

A statute is a written law passed by a legislative body, while regulations are official rules made by an agency responsible for enforcing a law and guidance is non-binding advice given by an agency to the public regarding how best to comply with a law.

 

The Clery Act is a federal statute with regulations in the United States Code of Federal Regulations. Practitioners implementing Clery Act obligations can find clarity regarding requirements under the applicable statutory or regulatory provisions in the current guidance, known as the Clery Act Appendix for the Federal Student Aid Handbook (formerly known as the Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting).

 

A finding of being out of compliance with the Clery Act must be grounded in statute or regulations. You will not be found out of compliance for a recommendation that is only found in the handbook. Best practice is to rely on the regulations, after the statute and before guidance.

 

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