The Department of Education fines Liberty University $14 million for Clery Act violations

The U.S. Department of Education (Department) disclosed today that its office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) has imposed a hefty fine of $14 million on Liberty University (Liberty) as part of a settlement agreement for repeated violations of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act). This fine marks the largest ever imposed for Clery Act infractions, which mandate that institutions furnish crucial safety information to various stakeholders, including students, parents, employees, and the general public, as participants in federal student aid programs.

Liberty has committed to investing $2 million over the next two years to bolster on-campus safety measures and enhance compliance efforts. An external accounting firm will monitor the progress of these enhancements to ensure accountability. The Department will conduct post-review monitoring of Liberty until April 2026 to verify the implementation of promised improvements. Any further instances of Clery Act non-compliance could threaten Liberty’s eligibility for federal aid programs or lead to other administrative penalties.

“Students, faculty, and staff deserve the assurance of a safe and secure campus environment. We are vigilant in addressing concerns related to campus safety and security,” stated FSA Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray. “Under the Clery Act, schools are obligated to take proactive measures to foster safe campus communities, investigate complaints, and transparently disclose information about crimes and safety issues. Institutions failing to meet these obligations will be held accountable.”

In February 2022, FSA informed Liberty of an impending program review to assess the university’s adherence to the Clery Act. This decision followed multiple complaints alleging systematic Clery Act violations by the institution.

In May 2023, FSA’s Clery Group issued a report from the program review which revealed significant Clery Act violations at Liberty. Following Liberty’s response to this report, FSA issued a Final Program Review Determination (FPRD) letter upholding 11 findings outlined in the program review:

  • Finding 1: Administrative Capability Failure – Liberty inadequately established and implemented a Clery Act compliance program from 2016 to 2023, according to FSA’s review. The university fell short of its regulatory duties in various critical ways, including inaccurate disclosures, non-compliance with sexual violence prevention requirements, delayed warnings about criminal activity, and inadequate emergency notifications.
  • Finding 2: Inaccurate and Incomplete Disclosures – Liberty’s Annual Security Report failed to include essential statements on campus safety and crime prevention policies and contained incomplete disclosures as required.
  • Finding 3: Violations of Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) – Liberty violated numerous sexual violence prevention mandates under the Clery Act, such as notifying victims of their rights inadequately and deficiencies in investigative and adjudicative processes.
  • Finding 4: Faulty Crime Statistics Collection – Liberty failed to collect accurate crime statistics reported to campus security authorities, leading to inaccuracies in their publications and notifications.
  • Finding 5: Inaccurate Crime Reporting – Liberty inaccurately reported and classified crime statistics for the years 2016-2021, missing several offenses and misidentifying crimes.
  • Finding 6: Non-Compliance with Emergency Notification Regulations – Liberty repeatedly neglected to issue required emergency notifications to the campus community about potential threats.
  • Finding 7: Timely Warning Failures – Liberty failed to issue timely warnings about Clery reportable crimes, as mandated by federal regulations.
  • Finding 8: Inadequate Daily Crime Log Maintenance – Liberty did not maintain accurate crime logs, as required for institutions with campus security departments.
  • Finding 9: Geographic Non-Compliance – Liberty failed to properly define its Clery geography, leading to inaccurate reporting of crime statistics.
  • Finding 10: Title IV Record Retention Breach – Liberty did not retain necessary records for Clery Act compliance, hindering oversight efforts.
  • Finding 11: ASR Publication Failure – Liberty neglected to distribute the revised version of its Annual Security Report between 2018 and 2021, as required by federal regulations.

The settlement mandates that Liberty rectify its programs and operations to ensure full Clery Act compliance and prevent future violations. The imposed $14 million fine and remedial measures signal the severity of Liberty’s persistent violations, posing threats to campus safety. The settlement acknowledges the current administration’s prompt acknowledgment of the violations and commitment to remedial actions, bolstered by increased spending on campus safety enhancements. FSA will oversee Liberty’s ongoing efforts closely to ensure compliance.

Students, parents, employees, and other stakeholders are urged to report suspected Clery Act violations, including misreporting crime statistics, non-compliance with publication requirements, obstructing assault reports, and failure to issue timely warnings. To file a Clery complaint, contact CleryComplaints@ed.gov with detailed information and supporting documents. To address Title IX complaints, visit the Department’s Office for Civil Rights at www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintintro.html.

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