DOE judge vacates fines against Virginia Tech

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A U.S. Department of Education judge has vacated $55,000 in fines that had been assessed by the federal government against Virginia Tech for failing to comply with federal law in providing timely notification to the campus about the April 16, 2007 shootings.

The fines had been imposed under the Clery Act, which requires universities to issue timely warnings when certain crimes are committed on campus. Judge Ernest C. Canellos found that the campus-wide emails sent by the university on the day in which gunman Seung-hui Cho killed 32 people before taking his own life met the act’s warning requirements.

“While we will always mourn for those who lost their lives on that terrible day in 2007, we are pleased the judge recognized that Virginia Tech’s response fully complied with the law,” Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II said. “For us, this appeal was not about the fines as much as it was about the arbitrary way the U.S. Department of Education tried to apply the law against a school that responded reasonably while an unforeseen and unprecedented crime was occurring on campus.”

Associate Vice President for University Relations Lawrence Hincker issued a similar statement.

“While we are satisfied with the ruling that overturns the department’s finding, there is no glee,” he said. “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.”

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