Department of Education investigates Florida Tech for Clery Act violations – Crimson

Brianna Forte | Copy Editor

Florida Tech misrepresented a total of 168 cases of crimes on campus in the 2019–20 Annual Security Report, which covers incidents from the past three years. These misrepresentations violated the Clery Act, a law that requires universities and colleges to be transparent about the campus crime policy and statistics. 

The discovery of these Clery Act violations at Florida Tech, which include under-reporting and over-reporting, has led to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid. 

According to the Clery Center website, the Clery Act is a law that requires universities and colleges to be transparent about the campus crime policy and statistics. This includes an Annual Security Report with crime statistics, which is released every Oct. 1 and includes the past three years worth of crime statistics.

The investigation of Florida Tech became official in May 2020 when the Florida Today’s request of records was denied due to the possible interference of these records with an active investigation.

On behalf of Florida Tech’s president T. Dwayne McCay, Wes Sumner stated in an email that the Department of Education review has been anticipated to take around 18 months and is already well under way.

“Florida Tech is pleased to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Education’s off-site campus crime program review to further examine the university’s compliance with the Clery Act and associated initiatives,” McCay said.

The Department of Education does not comment investigations that are ongoing.

This review came about when Florida Tech failed to properly report crimes committed on campus in their Annual Security Report between 2016 and 2018.  With these violations there is a possibility that the university will be fined $58,328 per incident by the U.S. Department of Education.

On Jan. 13, 2020, McCay emailed the Florida Tech community stating that there were 53 under reported cases and 115 over reported cases, for a total of 168 cases of misrepresented reports on the ASR from 2016 to 2018.

McCay said that Florida Tech is providing the Department of Education with all the requested information while also working to make corrections.  

“We have made personnel adjustments and reassignments, enhanced policies and procedures and engaged our own outside group to review and offer counsel on the improvement of our efforts,” said McCay.

Some of these adjustments included the hiring of the law firm Husch Blackwell as an external consultant, firing the previous Title IX coordinator, and firing two personnel within the security department. 

Nicole Farnsworth, a former student at Florida Tech who was raped on campus in 2018 and whose crime statistic was not included in the ASR said she hopes that Florida Tech has learned from this experience.

“You can’t erase rape,” Farnsworth said.

As the Department of Education investigates Florida Tech’s Clery Act violations, Farnsworth said she has found some closure.

“Knowing that they’re actually investigating and they’re working to remedy the situation makes it a lot easier,” Farnsworth said.


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