Jan 06, 2014 08:32 AM EST
Federal Government Imposes Further Fine of $5,000 on Virginia Tech for Violation of Clery Act
Virginia Tech University has been fined $5,000 by the U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan for the lack of proper warning policies in the campus.This follows an earlier fine of $27,500 imposed in December 2012 for failing to issue timely warnings at the Blacksburg campus shooting on the morning of April 16, 2007, which left 33 dead. Seung Hui Cho, the gunman, killed himself later.
The fines were issued for violating the federal Clery Act that mandates schools to issue timely warnings on campus threats.
The Office of Federal Student Aid sought to impose another $27,500 fine, the second time. The Office claimed that the lack of consistent timely warning policies necessitates a 'significant penalty.' Duncan said that inconsistent warning policies are not an extreme violation of the Clery Act.
"Virginia Tech's transgression is not of the same gravity as other violations that come under the Clery Act's purview and thus does not warrant a similarly severe penalty," Duncan said, Washington Post reports.
The government initially charged fines totaling $55,000 against the University. But the latest federal government's decision restricts the fines to a total of $32,500.
Larry Hincker, a spokesman for the university, said that the school denies any wrongdoings and would challenge both the fines in federal courts.
Families of the victims said that warning policies would have saved many lives on the day of the shooting.
The 2007 massacre also led to the filing of a civil wrongful death lawsuit by the parents of two students. The parents won the suit and were awarded $100,000 each. This wrongful death ruling was overturned by the Virginia Supreme Court, October, saying that 'there was no duty for the commonwealth to warn students about the potential for criminal acts.'
Earlier, the University criticized federal officials for not explicitly defining as to what constitutes a timely warning.
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