There are several approaches the U.S. Department of Education (ED) utilizes to evaluate an institution’s compliance with the Clery Act, including program reviews and “spot check” assessments.
Commonly, an institution’s Clery compliance is evaluated as part of a general ED program review conducted for Title IV purposes. In our experience, an institution with Clery-related findings is then likely to receive notice of a focused campus security compliance review in the 18-24 months following resolution of the general program review. Clery reviews can also come without a prior general program review if ED receives a complaint or information suggesting noncompliance. This more focused Clery review will entail a campus visit from representatives of ED’s Clery Division to review Clery-related documentation and meet with campus officials responsible for compliance in this area. Approximately 12-18 months later, ED will issue a preliminary Program Review Report and give an institution 60 calendar days to respond. After considering the institution’s response, a Final Program Review Determination will issue, including any fines that will be imposed.
In addition to the program reviews described above, the Clery Division may also less formally “spot check” your institution’s Clery compliance following a high-profile incident receiving media coverage (or based on some other information it received). In these situations, the scope and timeframe for the review are significantly condensed. Typically, a representative of the Clery Division will contact a school to notify it of the review and then send an email requesting specific information related to the incident that prompted the check (e.g., documentation of a timely warning issued or an explanation of why one was not issued; a defined segment of the Daily Crime Log; etc.), as well as a map of the institution’s Clery geography and copy of its most recent Annual Security Report; all of this documentation must be provided within 5 days of the request. Within a few weeks, the representative will provide feedback on the institution’s handling of the incident from a Clery perspective and, perhaps, more general considerations. If this “spot check” reveals significant inadequacies, an institution should then anticipate the initiation of a more thorough Clery compliance program review.
What this means for you
Because ED could be knocking on your door at any time, keeping up with Clery compliance is an ongoing, year-round obligation. It is also important to have procedures in place to ensure your Clery-related records are maintained for at least seven years and are easily accessible when you need to get to them.
In addition, if you would like more information about how the Husch Blackwell Clery Compliance Toolset uses automated technology to help institutions with their Clery compliance, please contact the authors of this blog post or visit this webpage.