UNK disappointed in Department of Education security report fines

Contact: Kelly Bartling, assistant vice chancellor, communications and community relations 308-865-8455, bartlingkh@unk.edu

Officials at University of Nebraska at Kearney expressed disappointment in fines recently levied against the university by the U.S. Department of Education. The Department of Education randomly selected UNK for review in 2010 from a list of all institutions of higher education in Nebraska with sworn police departments.

The fine action notification stems from a review of how the campus compiled and reported crime statistics in its 2009 Annual Security Report, which included statistics for the years 2006-2008.

“UNK is committed to accurately reporting statistics in our Annual Security Report, and proactive in complying with all Clery Act requirements,” said Kelly Bartling, a spokesperson for the university. “Bottom line, the safety of students, staff and visitors to our campus is among our highest campus priorities.”

The education department issued an initial review report to UNK in January 2011 that included three findings. First, the review indicated UNK did not provide an accurate geographical breakdown of all incidents, but instead by to whom incidents were reported.  Second, the university did not properly distribute its 2009 Annual Security Report to prospective employees and graduate students, which it resolved immediately by posting a link on the university’s webpage. Finally, the university was cited for inaccurately reporting a burglary as a larceny. In that incident, items were taken from a custodial closet, which is not a public space, and therefore the incident should have been coded as a burglary.

UNK immediately resolved concerns and filed a response with the Department of Education in February 2011. UNK received a final determination report from the Department’s Clery Act Compliance Team indicating that violations and underlying causes were addressed and findings closed. In July 2014, the Department’s Administrative Actions and Appeals Service Group notified UNK that the department intends to impose fines of $27,500 each, for the issues of geographical breakdown and notification of prospective graduate students and employees, and a fine of $10,000 for the miscoding of a burglary as a larceny. The total amount that UNK will pay is $65,000.

“UNK is a safe campus, with very low rates of crime overall and very few violent incidents,” said Bartling. “We are disappointed in the nature and magnitude of these fines, but will remain proactive and vigilant in terms of campus safety and compliance.”

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