The U.S. Department of Education notified Pennsylvania State University last week that the agency would investigate whether the university broke federal law in failing to report allegations of sex abuse by an assistant football coach who worked under the famed Joe Paterno.
The Education Department’s jurisdiction is via the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, or Clery Act for short.
Former Penn State defensive coach Jerry Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing several young boys over several years, including incidents on campus.
According to the Education Department, the Clery Act requires colleges and universities to disclose the number of criminal offenses on campus that are reported each year. In addition, in certain cases, the institution must issue a timely warning if a reported crime represents a threat to the campus community.
Separately, federal law requires teachers and other professionals to report suspected child sexual abuse in federally operated or contracted facilities. In recent years, many states have moved to tighten requirements on the tracking and reporting of abuse at the K-12 level.
A version of this article appeared in the November 16, 2011 edition of Education Week as Ed. Dept. to Investigate Penn State Allegations