The U.S. Department of Education fined Penn State University a record $2.4 million on Nov. 3 for failing to follow the requirements of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. The Act requires colleges and universities to keep the public informed about risks to safety.
The sanctions are connected to the conviction of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky for having sexually abused 10 male children, USA Today reports. Sandusky was originally arrested in November 2011, convicted in 2012 and is currently serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence.
In a 35-page letter, the Education Department stated that Penn State failed to issue "an emergency notification to its students and employees" after senior university officials learned of the forthcoming sex abuse charges against Sandusky, NBC News reports.
"Penn State officials knew that a man who was about to be charged with more than 50 felonies … had unfettered access to campus buildings and facilities," said the letter.
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In a statement, U.S. Education Undersecretary Ted Mitchell said "there must be consequences" for failing to uphold its duty to the public, The Associated Press reports.
"For colleges and universities to be safe spaces for learning and self-development, institutions must ensure student safety — a part of which is being transparent about incidents on their campuses. Disclosing this information is the law," Mitchell added.
A former senior Penn State official told the Department's review teams that the university had tried to obtain keys to multiple school facilities from Sandusky in 2010, but the assistant coach refused to give them up. The university did not attempt to retrieve the keys again until it changed the locks.
The government's review team concluded that prior to Sandusky's indictment on Nov. 4, 2011, Penn State had more than enough proof indicating that Sandusky constituted a genuine threat to the university community.
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The fine is the culmination of a five-year federal investigation into how Penn State dealt with community complaints about Sandusky in the time before he was charged with sexually abusing minors.
Penn State has spent more than $93 million settling with Sandusky's 32 accusers.