Education Other Issues Violence Against Women

Education Department Sanctions Penn State Again for Sexual Misconduct Procedures

On Thursday, the Department of Education announced that after a  recent investigation, it is ordering Pennsylvania State University to implement significant changes to the way the school handles complaints of sexual misconduct. The released investigation finds that the university persistently mishandled cases after the Sandusky scandal.

A federal investigation released Thursday identified “serious deficiencies” in the way Penn State responded to students’ sexual abuse complaints in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

The investigation report totaled 29 pages, with the Civil Rights office finding that Penn State does not have systems in place that effectively protect students. The Department of Education’s investigation also specifies that this failure includes the cases where the sexual misconduct allegations involves athletic staff. This means that the fundamental failures that allowed for the abuse under Sandusky are continued in the 2019-2020 academic year. There have not been systematic changes to protect Penn students even after the school’s national sex abuse scandal.

This is the university’s second time being sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Education for failure to handle sexual misconduct cases. A previous investigation that began in 2011 found the university violated 11 Clery Act policies, which resulted in a then-record $2.4 million fine. Still, the school seems to not have learned its lesson, putting all its students in danger.

An official statement from Penn State claims that the university has voluntarily entered into the resolution proposed by the Department of Education on March 18 but has yet to make any admission of liability. The Education Department announced its Office for Civil Rights will oversee the school’s changes to handle future allegations of sexual misconduct, including those involving athletic staff.

Sources: The New York Times 3/27/20; Centre Daily Times 3/26/20; Sports Illustrated 3/28/20

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