Posted Date: May 29, 2013

Author:  Lynn Mahaffie, Senior Director, Policy Coordination, Development, and Accreditation Service

Subject: Implementation of Changes Made to the Clery Act by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013

Background

On March 7th, 2013, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) (Pub. Law 113-4). Among other provisions, this law amended section 485(f) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), otherwise known as the Clery Act. These statutory changes require institutions to compile statistics for certain crimes that are reported to campus security authorities or local police agencies including incidents of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Additionally, institutions will be required to include certain policies, procedures, and programs pertaining to these crimes in their Annual Security Reports.

Negotiated Rulemaking

These statutory changes will require changes to the regulations in 34 CFR Part 668, Subpart D. Before making any changes to the regulations for the title IV, HEA programs, the Department of Education (the Department) must conduct negotiated rulemaking in accordance with section 492 of the HEA. In this regard, the Department published a Notice in the Federal Register (78 Fed. Reg. 22467) on April 16, 2013 announcing topics that the Department may include in the agenda for a planned negotiated rulemaking committee, which included the changes made to Clery Act by VAWA. See http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-16/pdf/2013-08891.pdf.

As discussed in the Federal Register Notice, the next step in the process is a series of public meetings in which interested parties may comment on the topics for negotiation suggested by the Department. The changes made to the Clery Act raise a number of significant policy issues for the Department and we encourage institutions and all interested parties to present comments and questions at one of the remaining public hearings on May 30 in San Francisco and June 4 in Atlanta or to formally submit them in writing to the Department as discussed in the notice.

We will issue proposed and final regulations on this topic after completing the rulemaking process. In the absence of regulations, in this electronic announcement we provide some preliminary guidance for institutions regarding these changes to the Clery Act.

Annual Security Report

Institutions subject to the Clery Act must distribute an Annual Security Report to current and prospective students and employees that contains campus crime statistics for the previous three calendar years, as well as policies and procedures pertaining to campus safety and security. Under section 304(b) of VAWA, the changes made by the new law “take effect with respect to the annual security report . . . prepared by an institution of higher education one calendar year after the date of enactment” of VAWA. Thus, the first Annual Security Report that must include the new required information is the report that must be issued by each institution by October 1, 2014. This report would include crime statistics from calendar years 2011, 2012, and 2013. These crime statistics would also be reported to the Department through the web-based data collection in October 2014.

As noted above, final regulations to implement the statutory changes to the Clery Act will not be effective until after the Department completes the rulemaking process. Until those regulations are issued, we expect institutions to make a good faith effort to comply with the statutory requirements in accordance with the statutory effective date. The Department expects that institutions will exercise their best efforts to include statistics for the new crime categories for calendar year 2013 in the Annual Security Report due in October of 2014. We understand, however, that institutions may not have complete statistics for the year when the statistics must be issued and reported to the Department.

Questions about VAWA

Please submit written inquiries about the changes to the Clery Act by VAWA to our Clery Act Help Desk at HandbookQuestions@ed.gov. The Department will use these questions to develop future guidance as necessary.

   

End of Page