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Apr 17, 2014 03:47 PM EDT

Virginia Tech Shooting Massacre's Seventh Anniversary Marked By School Paying Clery Act Violation Fine


The last chapter of the Virginia Tech Massacre has finally been closed, as the school has paid its federal fines of $32,500 to the U.S. Education Department (ED).

The Associated Press first reported the completed payment, most likely ending the aftermath of the mass shooting. The ED determined Va. Tech violated the Clery Act, a federal law requiring all colleges and universities to timely notify the campus of a threat.

According to the Washington Post, Education Secretary Arne Duncan ruled in 2012 the school violated the Clery Act and should be fined $27,500. The Virginia Supreme Court later ruled in favor of Va. Tech, but Duncan upheld the fine.

"It is alarming that [Virginia Tech] argues that it had no duty to warn the campus community after the Police Department discovered the bodies of two students shot in a dormitory, and did not know the identity or location of the shooter," Duncan wrote in his decision. "Indeed, if there were ever a time when a warning was required under the Clery Act, this would be it."

Under the Clery Act, a school must warn its community of a "significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees occurring on the campus."

Va. Tech's timing marks the seventh anniversary of the day a student named Seung Hui Cho killed 32 people on campus and then himself April 16, 2007. Cho shot and killed a man and woman in a dorm building, but police believed it was a domestic dispute and the school did not issue a warning to the rest of the campus. Later that day, Cho shot and killed 30 more people throughout Norris Hall before he killed himself.

"While we believe that the [U.S. Department of Education's] actions against Virginia Tech are inconsistent with their earlier guidance and policy, further litigation was not prudent in light of the various costs - emotional impact on the community, time lost, as well as financial," Lawrence G. Hincker, associate vice president for university relations, told the WP.

Va. Tech's cadet corps lit a candle Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. for their seventh annual Day of Remembrance, WDBJ7 reported. The candle lighting is part of a series of ceremonies and events planned to honor and remember the victims.

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