Virginia Tech statement on ruling overturning findings of the U.S. Department of Education
The following university statement is attributed to Associate Vice President for University Relations Lawrence Hincker:
Virginia Tech officials are pleased by the ruling of the U.S. Department of Education’s administrative law judge that the university did not violate provisions of federal law known as the Clery Act. He eliminated the fines levied by the department.
Administrative Judge Ernest Canellos determined that university actions on the morning of April 16, 2007, after the shootings in Ambler Johnston residence hall, satisfied the requirements of the “timely warning” provision of the Clery Act. “This was not an unreasonable amount of time in which to issue a warning. …. if the later shootings at Norris Hall had not occurred, it is doubtful that the timing of the email would have been perceived as too late.” said Canellos.
Furthermore, Judge Canellos determined that the university did not violate federal law because the email notice was sent by the university communications office and not the university police department. “As the VTPD were busy investigating a crime, it would be an illogical interpretation of the institution’s policies to require the VTPD to physically compose a message rather than provide substantial input on which the message is based. I agree,” Canellos concluded.
While we are satisfied with the ruling that overturns the department’s finding, there is no glee. A horrendous event happened on this campus almost five years ago. Profound sadness remains. We continue to grieve for the families of victims killed or injured by a deranged young man.
Because of what happened here, we know that higher education changed on April 16, 2007. New laws, protocols, practices, policies, and technologies grew from our tragedy. We hope that lessons from this unforeseeable crime will continue to inform the practices affecting campus safety throughout the nation and the world.