U.S. Department of Education Announces Rescission of and Replacement for the 2016 Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting

(Released 9 October 2020) This afternoon, Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the rescission of and replacement for the 2016 Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting (Handbook), the most recent Clery Act subregulatory guidance. The Department determined that “much of the guidance provided was outside of the scope of the relevant statutory (20 U.S.C. 1092) and regulatory (34 CFR 668.41 and 668.46) authority.”

The announcement also provided an overview of a new Clery-related Appendix of the Federal Student Aid Handbook and any significant changes between the 2016 Handbook and the new appendix. These changes primarily impact Clery Act geography and campus security authorities, providing less direction on how institutions should interpret the regulatory requirements related to public property and noncampus geography as well as who is required to report under the Clery Act. They also direct institutions directly to the regulations for definitions of Clery Act crimes.

As with all federal higher education regulations, institutions are in the position of needing to interpret and apply regulations based on their own unique campus environments. In our experience, many of the sections of the 2016 Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting spoke to areas where institutions were continually reaching out to the Department for more clarity and guidance to inform their own application, and provided better insight and examples as to what the regulations can look like in practice. 

No guidance is perfect — we have, in fact, advocated for certain changes to the Handbook to address areas of overcomplication or confusion for institutions; however, we do not anticipate that there will be fewer questions with the rescission of this guidance altogether. The Department just has one less resource available to help answer these persistent questions.

The announcement notes that while the Department will not advise institutions to rely upon it, the 2016 Handbook will be archived on the Department’s website and will continue to be referenced in program review reports for applicable calendar years. While no longer subregulatory guidance, we encourage institutions to continue to reference the Handbook, to better understand existing promising practices and effective approaches to implementation. As always, Clery Center will continue to support you by providing training and technical assistance as you determine how to apply Clery Act regulations on your campus and, most importantly, make the decisions that best support your campus community.

You can find the announcement here.

You can find the Appendix of the Federal Student Aid Handbook here.

Released by Clery Center. Click here for source.